Have you ever had a time where you were laid up in bed for longer than you wanted? When you have all your plans and responsibilities and general habits of life thrown off, it can be incredibly frustrating- but sometimes it can end up allowing you to make a greater impact than you ever had before.
A friend of mine named Brent recently got injured pretty badly and is forced to not walk for a good while, so I figured I’d write this out for him. I’ve had other friends with various injuries and sicknesses that I’ve shared these stories with (not to mention taking this advice myself during an extended hospital stay and recovery), and it always seems to give people hope.
If you’ve ever studied President Kennedy, you’ll know he had a myriad of sicknesses and injuries throughout his lifetime, making his accomplishments even more impressive. A few years after he was elected to the Senate, he was was forced to have back surgery and was bedridden for nearly two full years. Undaunted by his confinement, Kennedy enlisted his speech writer to help him write an article on the courage of past senators. The article turned into a book, and the book, Profiles in Courage, turned into a best-seller, propelling the young Senator into the national spotlight, and eventually the White House.
Do you like talking animals, sorcery, and large, wooden storage furniture? If so, you’re probably a fan of CS Lewis, well known for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” as well as many other amazing books. C.S. Lewis actually looked forward to those times of brief illness, where he was able to take a break from his duties as a professor and caring for his household. Sometimes during those time, he would be able to write for pleasure, or just think and be alone and recharge.
Although his captivity was not due to illness, the Apostle Paul certainly was confined. Paul was a preacher and teacher, spending most of his adult life traveling and spreading the Gospel verbally. However, during his long imprisonment in Rome, he was forced to give up his speaking. Rather than give up, he took up letter writing, and wrote a good chunk of the New Testament in the process. As reflected in his letters, it was very difficult for him not to see his church plants personally, but what would Christianity have looked like today without those letters from his imprisonment?
Of course, there are a number of other examples of wise people taking a bad circumstance and turning it into good- from Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letters from A Birmingham Jail” to Marco Polo’s eponymous book. And you don’t even have to write a book. You could take the time to make calls, send emails, or figure out a way to make an impact on other people’s lives while stationary. A few years ago, I was in a hospital bed for 10 days, hooked up to IVs and monitors in a state where I didn’t even have the will and focus to read (which, if you know me, is a surprising state). But I could pray for people, just going through everyone I could think of, and so I could make a difference that way.
So, Brent and friends, not that you have to write a book that gets you into the White House, one of the 10 best-selling books of all time, or a chunk of the Bible, but you can still have an impact, wherever you and however you are. Good luck and God bless!