We think my husband broke his baby toe last night. It is twice the size of its corresponding mate on the left foot and cannot be manipulated even a half inch without eliciting pitiable yelps of pain.
The stubbing of the toe was a freak accident. Moreover, as it comes on the heels (no pun intended) of nearly a year of severe and costly ailments from which my husband finally seems to be recovering, and just as he has returned to a semi-normal workweek, we decided it was more than a coincidence; it was God.
Now I realize that God does things to sanctify us and the devil does things to de-sanctify us, as it were. But the fact is that sometimes these things are one and the same event. For example, King David took an ill-advised census of Israel, and 2 Samuel 24:1 says that God moved David to do it, while 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan tempted David to do it.
I’m glad that this story is in the Bible because it means I do not have to try too hard to decide if it was Satan or God behind my husband’s toe fracture. I can fairly safely conclude that Satan wants the incident to make me and my husband discouraged, while God wants the incident to test our mettle and increase our faith.
In such times—in all times—one is tempted to agree with Satan and fall into his trap: to take the part of Job’s wife who thought “enough was enough” and sneered thus at her husband:
“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9, ESV).
But my husband never goes there. Even in his pain last night I heard him thanking God.
For myself, it was helpful to think about Iraq and Syria. A broken toe and a few more days out of work is a pretty good deal next to being decapitated. It’s funny (not) but I always vainly think that even if I am a bit of a whiner here in America, I would be brave and bold for the faith in Iraq. Interestingly, that is not what the Bible says:
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5, ESV).
All I have ever done is race with men on foot—if I have even done that. A day is coming, even maybe in America, where you and I may have to “race with horses,” with those bigger and stronger than we. We build up the spiritual stamina by obeying and believing now, when things are relatively easy.