What a difference a year makes! November 29 marks the one-year anniversary of my husband Keith’s kidney and pancreas transplant. The difference in his health is phenomenal and a true miracle. Keith’s transplants brought me new insight to the work God does in each Christian when He gives us a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 says that God will “remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.” That’s a different sort of transplant than the ones Keith received. Right now Keith is walking around with two pancreases and three kidneys in his body. Because “transplant” means taking from one person and putting into another person. The doctors explained that removal of organs is more traumatic to the body than adding organs, so they opened Keith up and shifted his innards around to make space for the new-to-him organs. We are incredibly thankful for the gift of life that his organ donor provided.
I think of things that cause a “heart of stone.” I don’t think we’re born with it. I think life’s experiences harden our hearts as a measure of self-protection. We feel strong when we hold onto our hurt and anger. We feel strong when we use harsh words to put others down. We feel strong when someone hurts us and we return the hurt. And each of those feats of strength harden our hearts that much more.
But when we are truly strong is when we admit our weakness. When we come to Christ with the broken pieces of our lives, and place our hard and broken hearts in His hands. Our hearts, given to Him, become soft and malleable. Christ is then able to work through us to infuse the world with his gentleness, grace, mercy, and peace. It is in allowing Christ to work through our hurts that we are given opportunities to minister to others. Christ provides us with hope, so we can pass that hope along.
This month find reasons to be thankful. Invest much time in prayer. Look for people who are discouraged and lift them up. Spread words of life-enhancing encouragement. We have no way of knowing the eternal effects of our prayers and actions. But we can be assured that the ripples will be felt for generations. What a scary, yet comforting thought!