We’ve all known some level of suffering throughout our lives. Whether disease, war, loneliness, abuse, unemployment, or loss of a loved one, suffering affects us all. It’s how we react that sets us apart from others, especially for those who follow Jesus. Following is a true account of one man’s suffering. Other stories of overcoming suffering can be found in the summer issue of Wesleyan Life magazine, both print and electronic versions.
In 1977, my father, Rev. Marvin Lamb, rode his motorcycle to his factory job and was sideswiped. A bi-vocational Wesleyan pastor, his handlebars got stuck in the rear bumper and he was dragged about 1/4 mile. He was gravely injured, with broken ribs and leg, and a crushed left ankle. When doctors conveyed that his left foot may need amputated, he replied, “Praise God, I gave him my foot when I gave everything to him. If God wants my foot right now, he can have it.” My mother informed the doctors that Dad was not out of his mind and that he really believed that way.
Doctors saved Dad’s foot, but he had been willing to part with it. He fully surrendered to God no matter the circumstances. Dad couldn’t work for two years, and we were forced to rely on God to meet our family needs. He always came through.
Over the years, Dad endured more than 20 surgeries, most of them meant to correct problems with his ankle. I remember his transitioning from a cast that went all the way up his hip to shorter casts. I remember surgical steel pins protruding out his heel, skin grafts, crutches, walkers, and finally a cane after he was fitted with a prosthetic ankle brace with a special shoe. Other than grimacing when in pain, I’ve never seen Dad blame God or complain. My father eventually returned to work and the pastorate. He never doubted God’s grace and goodness, and his faith kept him from discouragement and depression.
Dad still pastors a small Wesleyan church today, at age 74. His limp reminds me of Jacob’s limp after wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32). We always have the opportunity to encounter God during times of distress. I have witnessed my dad’s faith grant him perseverance under ongoing, painful, and, sometimes, invasive medical procedures.
There have been additional stresses and health problems as he’s aged, but Dad always finds the promise of Romans 8:28 sufficient ground upon which to make a stand: “All things work for the good of them that love God and are called according his purpose.”
Even while he stands with a brace and a cane.