Chad was an inspiring young man when he came into the Center to get help for his addiction. He had not been out there long enough to have been robbed of all the graces God had bestowed upon him. But he had been out there long enough to burn a bunch of bridges. He had become estranged from his parents, from his profession, and from his own young bride and their children.
Chad was highly motivated and energetic when it came to his recovery. He was committed to his group work and every element as assigned. He made friends quickly among the other 30 men in the program. He treated the most down and out with great respect. These traits caused our staff and missionaries to work hard with him and to invest in his therapy.
God began to restore Chad in what seemed like an extraordinarily short time. His family came on board to support. His employer decided he wanted Chad back if he could finish 16 weeks of inpatient work in our therapeutic community. Chad’s legal problems were easily resolved… He had not gotten into too much trouble yet. All looked good as we entered his fourth month of treatment.
The fourth month asks the one in recovery to begin looking toward life on the outside, on their own, in the real world. This usually meant visiting the employment office. But not for Chad. He had promise of a job. So really all it meant for him was to get a physical to be sure he is ready for work.
Life caved in that day for Chad. He was told by the clinic doc that he tested positive for HIV. Chad was a basket-case when he came back from the clinic. He was angry, disappointed, and ready to throw in the towel. Chad was a sudden reminder that there are sometimes unexpected consequences from drug usage.
We lived through those emotions with Chad… Especially the anger! He had come so far, God had done so much to bring restoration, others had come alongside him to prepare him for the next steps. But now, this disease.
My experience with Chad came back to my mind as I have been studying and preparing messages from Jonah. Jonah became angry with God just as we had become angry with God. God asked Jonah two times if he had good reason to be angry. Jonah was confident that he had justification for his anger. It turns out that he did not.
God had only acted within the framework of His character in the life of Jonah- and in those Ninevites- and in the life of Chad- and in my own life. God does what He does for His own reasons which make perfect sense to Himself. He redeemed the wicked Ninevites who had not sought or sensed redemption. They were simply willing to receive what God was willing to offer.
We must learn to rejoice in the great things God does. If we do not understand what He has done we should ask but also be assured that everything He does is good. God is only capable of acting in ways that work to bring us closer to Himself.
So it was with Chad. It was a horrible day with horrible news. But God embraced Chad and provided him with a greater understanding of restoration and protection than he had ever sensed or known before. Chad was reminded of his dependence upon God. That is a lesson most of us learn too late.