By Femi Aribisala
My first name means “God loves me.” When God called me to ministry in 1994, He called my name three times. Then He said to me: “I have loved you from the foundation of the world.”
The Bible says: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6). God so loved me, He sent armed robbers to waylay me and shoot me. He told me so Himself and validated this with scripture:
“Who gave Jacob for plunder, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, nor were they obedient to His law.” (Isaiah 42:24).
Goodness of God
Why does a loving God do this to those He loves? He does this because He is determined to show us His glory and to reveal His glory in us.
When the armed robbers attacked me, God appeared to me for the very first time, just as He did to the three Hebrew children in the fiery burning furnace. He then gave me a lifetime message which says bad things may happen to me, but they would always amount to nothing. He would work all things together for my good. (Romans 8:28-30).
Jesus gave the same assurance to His disciples on His way to Calvary. He said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Accordingly, I experienced peace that surpasses all understanding during my armed robbery attack. (Philippians 4:7). I was surrounded by armed robbers, there was a bullet in my leg, and I was anxious about nothing. Given the situation, the peace I had did not make any sense.
In the middle of the attack, I heard the voice of God for the very first time. Later, He said to me: “Femi, blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.” (Matthew 13:16).
And then, the miracle of miracles, He healed the broken bone in my bullet-ridden leg.
“Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.” (Isaiah 44:23).
I discovered to my surprise that I was born blind. Indeed, all men are born blind. As a result, we can only see the temporal and transient glory of men but cannot see the eternal and everlasting glory of God.
In the scriptures, when Jesus opened the eyes of a man who was blind from birth, the unbelieving Pharisees queried him, asking: “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He said to them, ‘He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’” (John 9:15).
I can imagine skeptical latter-day Pharisees asking me the same question today: “Femi, how did Jesus open your eyes?” This is my answer: “He sent armed robbers to waylay me and shoot me on Airport Road. When He did this, scales fell out of my eyes and my ears popped open.”
The same phenomenon happened to Job. God afflicted him with the loss of his children, his wealth, and his health. But at the end of his ordeal, Job had this testimony. He said to God: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” (Job 42:5).
God made Job go through his ordeal for the same reason He sent armed robbers to me. He did this because of His amazing love. He does this to show us how much He loves us by redeeming our losses.
Accordingly, my leg was miraculously healed. As for Job, the Lord restored his losses and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10).
That is the principle behind God’s redemption. The redeemed get double for our trouble. (Zechariah 9:12).
The big bonus, of course, is the knowledge of God that our redemption brings. Therefore, Paul says: “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8).
When God loves us, when He adores us, He makes something bad happen to us.
John makes sure we know that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. Nevertheless, he delayed going to see him when He heard he was sick.
“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” (John 11:5-6).
So doing, He made sure Lazarus was not only sick but that he died. He did this because He wanted them to see the glory of God.
He reassured His disciples about Lazarus’ affliction: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4).
When He finally got to Bethany four days after Lazarus’ death, He told Martha, Lazarus’ sister: “If you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
The glory they saw was Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. That glory blew their minds. They were never the same again, and they came to much greater knowledge of Jesus, which is the gateway to eternal life.
Jesus says to God the Father: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3-4).
Look at what Mary did because of this new knowledge:
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” (John 12:1-3).
Mary, who had been upset that Jesus came late to Bethany when Lazarus was sick, was now so grateful to Jesus for coming late and allowing Lazarus to die because she saw the glory of his resurrection.
So, Christians need to understand this. Good things have been overrated and bad things have been underrated. If we want to see the good of God, we must endure the bad.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).