A Life of Hope
Nathan has gained, through his suffering, the ability to show others that rather than making our lives perfect, God reaches into our imperfections and works through them – His power is made perfect in our weakness.
It was April 10, 2014 when the pain started. Nathan was sitting in third period biology when he began to feel sick. When the board at the front of the room doubled, then quadrupled, he figured it was time to go home. Going to sleep, he hoped to wake up the next morning feeling better. Little did he know the trouble was only beginning.
You may recognize the beginning of Nathan Keefer’s story from an Anthologies video featuring Nathan and his family speaking of their very personal encounter with chronic pain, the story God is writing for Nathan didn’t end with the video. God’s story endures through Nathan today, and continues to be a story of hope amidst painful circumstances.
Last summer, Nathan graduated from high school. He accomplished this while suffering through his chronic pain. And despite everything he had been through, he graduated as Salutatorian. He sees it as an earmark of God’s steady grace throughout the situation, thanking God for the help He provided through Nathan’s parents. He knows he would never have been able to achieve this milestone without God steadily working through him and his family. Because of his academic success, Nathan received the opportunity to speak at graduation, giving all God the glory!
Nathan began college this fall. Although his symptoms persist, he is independent enough to pursue his education. Before his illness began, he had no idea where God was directing his future. Now, more than ever, he feels the call to become a doctor. Over the past few years through his pain he has seen the work God can do through doctors, and believes God is calling him to the this vocation. He wants to be a doctor to serve those who need it most – citizens of other nations with diseases much like his – and in places where help is hard to find. Over the summer, he even went on a mission trip to see his commission with his own eyes.
For now, he is a college student, in many ways like any other. He is able to participate in classes and activities, and enjoys the life he has. He also appreciates the doors God has opened through his chronic pain in speaking with his classmates. He sees his pain as a tool to reach those around him, rather than the hindrance chronic pain often becomes. It may be tempting to see the Christian life as “perfect”, but Nathan has gained, through his suffering, the ability to show others that rather than making our lives perfect, God reaches into our imperfections and works through them – His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Some days are better for Nathan than others. He has found forms of treatment which help, but his trials are not yet over. Last November his symptoms returned to higher levels of pain, and it took some time for them to settle, once more, to a more manageable state. He still has his good days and bad days, days when he is able to praise God for all He has done through Nathan’s illness, and days where he struggles with the pain he must endure; and with surrendering control to God.
Despite everything Nathan has gone through, he continues to live a life of hope. When speaking to him, you would never suspect the struggles he has encountered, so many for one so young. It is an excellent reminder of the way our incredible God works. In the lives of others, we can see His work so beautifully displayed. Our stories are really just one part of His great Story, a fact which Nathan mentions frequently as he speaks of his life.
A vital key to Godly success in every circumstance is prayer. Nathan prays God will help him to rely on God’s strength rather than his own, that he would learn even better in the coming days and weeks to trust in God for every good thing – joy, strength, and peace. Paul exhorts us to behave as one Body in Christ, to mourn and rejoice in turn with every member (1 Corinthians 12:26.) As Nathan continues his story, let us continue to pray, mourn, and rejoice with him in turn as God works in and through every situation.