Transformed through fire

David Snyder, serves as Executive Director of Sustainable Medical Missions in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. This is his story:

David Snyder
David Snyder

David Snyder, who serves as Executive Director of Sustainable Medical Missions (www.sustainablemed.org), lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. This is his story:

Human beings do whatever we can to avoid pain and discomfort. We distract ourselves with media, attempt to soothe our souls by filling our bellies, or drown our sorrows with drugs or medications. Many are familiar with this path and the empty promises of these methods.

However, it is the pain and trials that so often transform us from who we are to who we are meant to be.... who I am meant to be.

My story begins with a narrative that few have and many would envy. My parents were both present and loving. We were not overly rich, but we had more than enough.

But the truth is that we are all born with a brokenness inside of us, and God loved me too much to leave me the way I was. Some changes occurred from successes and positive experiences. Yet, as much as I desired to avoid pain and trails, these are the moments that helped shaped me to be the person I am today.

One of the most painful experiences physically and emotionally was my five-year battle with a chronic and supposedly incurable disease caused ulcerative colitis. This disorder which causes lesions or tears in your digestive system also has the bonus of regular diarrhea, bloody stool, and intense cramps.

What was even more traumatizing was the fact that this occurred from ages 16-21, which are challenging years even in the best of circumstances. There were many embarrassing situations with friends and while on dates, and I remember praying to God for five years for this to be taken from me.

My parents were both followers of Jesus, and their loving attitude towards me and consistent sharing of the Good News about Christ had led me to accept Him as my Lord and Saviour at the age of eight.

This was the most important decision of my life, and I was and continue to be transformed by this choice.

Fortunately, regarding my ulcerative colitis, God's answer was "no" to my plea for it to be removed or more accurately, "not yet". While I was concerned about my physical healing, God wanted my heart to be transformed. I was following God, but I did not fully trust God and would often strive to either control things or gain glory for myself through high performance.

I would even neglect my physical health and relationship with others in this pursuit. But, over the years, God revealed this truth to me, and it was not until I began to make changes in my life, demonstrated my trust in God, that I began to be released from this disease. It is supposed to be incurable, but I have remained symptom free for the past 20 years.

One would think that a profound miraculous healing like this would be sufficient for my heart to change. The truth is that there have been many areas of my life and character that needed work.

My identity in my work was broken through the traumatic loss of my job and the many months of unemployment that followed.

My pride in my athletic abilities has been torn down many times through injuries to my back and knee. Most recently, my reliance upon the support and guidance of my father has been challenged through his ALS diagnosis, which is a disease that disrupts the interactions between the nerves and muscles that most often leads to increased disability and death.

Each of these moments (and the ones that will come in the future) are often overwhelming and filled with sadness or grief. Yet, the story of my growth spiritually and in my relationship with Jesus is one that is often formed in the fires of despair, as my heart is reoriented towards God's plans, as well as my trust in His character and provision to carry me through difficult times.

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