Stories grip our attention and excite our imagination. Good stories invoke our imaginations and can even elicit visceral responses deep within us. They foster kinship and empathy with the characters. Stories captivate people and inspire us to action.
Every Christian has a story to share—the story of God’s redemption in our lives and how he pulled us from darkness and restored us to himself. We can use our life circumstances to show how God works in the world and to teach others about him.
Daniel Ritchie, a man who was born without arms, tells his story in My Afflictions for His Glory: Living Out Your Identity in Christ. This brief book teaches that God is sovereign in our pain, struggles, shortcomings and imperfections. Even in the midst of our suffering, we can glorify and seek comfort in our heavenly father. Ritchie’s goal is to “allow you to see that God does not operate according to human logic” (2). God made each of us uniquely for his glory. He uses us to minister to others, even when we feel inadequate or incapable. Sometimes all we can see is our inadequacy, but “the gospel of God’s grace bids us to define our worth by what He says and not by the shame of our failure or the pain of our burdens” (8).
We can use our life circumstances to show how God works in the world and to teach others about him.
In his book, Ritchie walks the reader through his life and shares how at every stage, God’s grace was sufficient for him. He demonstrates the many opportunities he’s had to bring honor to God in his affliction. Each chapter is a mini-sermon in which the author encourages you to come to grips with your own identity in Christ and recognize the power of gospel to transform your own life. Some people would assume that armlessness is a curse or, at the very least, a frustrating burden. Indeed, Daniel shares the overwhelming sense of isolation he feels because nearly everyone else he knows as arms. Nevertheless, he claims he would not choose to have arms because armlessness provides an avenue to share the gospel (50). None of us desires pain and suffering, but “our pain gives us a platform” to share the goodness of God (52).
My Afflictions for His Glory is an encouraging book. Ritchie reminds us of simple truths that we often forget as we deal with the daily frustrations of life—no matter our situation, God can use us for his glory. God created us in his image and we can reflect and point others to him. The book brings to mind similar words from the apostle Paul:
But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Ritchie reminds us that God uses us wherever we are, in whatever state, however we are willing to share our story and glorify him.