This month as a nation took note of novelist, Anne Rice “Quitting Christianity” a less seen story on a less grand stage emerged to show forth the true value of faith.
In Denver, Colorado two brothers embraced before going into surgery for a liver transplant. Ryan Arnold, age 34, was donating a part of his healthy liver so that his older brother Chad Arnold, who had an incurable liver disease, could live.
This type of surgery is rare and not without risk. After what seemed to be a successful surgery complications arose. Within four days, the donor Ryan Arnold died while his brother Chad lived.
Ryan and Chad’s father fought back tears as he broke the news to Chad with the simple words, “I have some bad news. Ryan’s gone but we still serve a good God.”
When someone goes through unbearable pain and emerges with faith intact something in all of us takes notice. Faith emerges as less of a debate and its sacred nature becomes illuminated. The words in scripture, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13) are merely noble words until modeled in a hospital room where a brother’s life hangs in the balance or on a cross 2,000 years ago.
The Bible does not pretend that suffering doesn’t exist. The eleventh Chapter of Hebrews is known as the “Faith Chapter.” Within its contents are recorded mighty exploits and miracles. Also within its contents are those who took a stand and whose lives were marked by suffering even to the point of death. The Bible notes that ALL were commended for their faith.
The following are thoughts on faith amidst suffering:
1. “Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than those who are most content.” -- Bob Dylan
2. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” -- Hebrews 11:1
3. God allowed his own son to suffer so that we might be saved.
4. The book of Job contains some 300 questions and ultimately answers them all with God’s presence.
5. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” -- Deuteronomy 29:29
6. “I am he who comforts you.” -- Isaiah 51:12
7. “Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” -- Hebrews 11:27
8. “Where oh death is your victory? Where oh death is your sting?” --I Corinthians 15:55
9. “The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.” -- Elizabeth Elliot (wife of a missionary who was killed on the mission field)
10. “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” -- John 16:33
In a world in which faith is often ridiculed or marginalized, Ryan Arnold, husband of Shannon and father of their three children ages 6, 4 and 1, simply lived out his faith. His words, spoken minutes before his surgery to his brother telling him that he was “worth it” caused us all to catch a glimpse of how God views us. His faith told him that love has the power to forever change the life of another.
God clearly had a purpose for Ryan’s life and he has a purpose for Chad’s life that is worthy of his brother’s sacrifice.
The family has set up a link for contributions toward scholarships for the education of Ryan Arnold’s sons. It can found at ryanarnold.org. And here is a video link to the story as well (scroll to the bottom of the page for the video).
Rev. Bill Shuler is pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia. To learn more, visit CapitalLife.org.
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