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Wheelchair For The New Year

In a few days, we will be ushering in a new year - 2023. Like you, I also hear people expressing sentiments that the year has gone by so fast. Indeed, it has, because we started January 1st not too long ago. My response to these sentiments of the year going by so fast sort of runs like this: when you are busy, the days go by quickly. Like 2020 and 2021, when we had to deal with the new horror of the pandemic, this year has been challenging, as well, and truly devastating for a lot of people.

I cannot begin to name the many challenges that each of you has gone through this past year. Many are the difficult stories that I have heard. Many are the tears that I have seen roll down your cheeks over a loss that you had experienced. Many are the mistakes that you and I have made - call them sins, if you may. Many are the ways in which we have disappointed one another. Many are the estranged relationships that bedevil us. Many are the questions and concerns that we yearn for answers to.

Life’s tribulations and challenges are numerous, and they can be pretty daunting. To this, I always wonder how people who have no faith deal with the myriad of challenges that come their way.

But through all our challenges, faith invites us to soldier on, to believe that all will be well and that all must be well. Mary Peters, in her poem Through the love of God our Saviour, writes this:

Though we pass through tribulation,

All will be well.

Ours is such a full salvation,

all, all is well.

Happy, still in God confiding,

fruitful, if in Christ abiding,

holy, through the Spirit’s guiding,

all must be well

Mary believed that all will be well. And I believe faith invites us to find true joy in our belief that all must be well.

I want to share with you a story of a Nigerian billionaire named Femi Otedola. In an interview once, he recounted the levels of happiness that he had experienced. Listen to him: “I have gone through four stages of happiness in life and finally I understood the meaning of true happiness.

The first stage was to accumulate wealth and means. But at this stage, I did not get the happiness I wanted.

Then came the second stage of collecting valuables and items. But I realized that the effect of this thing is also temporary, and the luster of valuable things does not last long.

Then came the third stage of getting big projects. That was when I was holding 95% of the diesel supply in Nigeria and Africa. I was also the largest vessel owner in Africa and Asia. But even here I did not get the happiness I had imagined.

The fourth stage was the time a friend of mine asked me to buy wheelchairs for some disabled children, about 200 kids in all.

At the friend’s request, I immediately bought the wheelchairs. But the friend insisted that I go with him and hand over the wheelchairs to the children, so I got ready and went with him.

There, I gave these wheelchairs to the children with my own hands. I saw the strange glow of happiness on the faces of these children. I saw them all sitting on the wheelchairs, moving around, and having fun.

It was as if they had arrived at a picnic spot where they are sharing a jackpot winning.

I felt real joy inside me. When I decided to leave, one of the kids grabbed my legs. I tried to free my legs gently, but the child stared at my face and held my legs tightly. I bent down and asked the child, "Do you need something else?"

The answer this child gave me not only made me happy but also changed my attitude toward life completely. This child said, “I want to remember your face so that when I meet you in heaven, I will be able to recognize you and thank you once again.”

I want to remember your face so that when I meet you in heaven, I will be able to recognize you and thank you once again.

This is a profound statement by a kid who had been gifted a wheelchair by someone he didn’t know. A thoughtful statement by a child who probably never thought that he would ever have the luxury of sitting in a wheelchair. A moving statement by a child who, even at his/her young age have had enough of life’s challenges.

What challenges do you have? What are the trials that you are going through?

This child had probably, in the silence of the night, prayed that they would one day sit in the comfort of a wheelchair. But they clearly didn’t know how or when. And looking at their surroundings, and the children who were in a similar situation, this child might have thought that people didn’t care enough to see them, nor did they care enough to change their circumstances. But someone cared. Femi proved that we can yet believe in one another.

Whereas life alerts me to the fact that I cannot take anything for granted, faith invites me to hope for a brighter tomorrow. I may not know how, or when, this tomorrow would come, but faith bids me to always expect this bright tomorrow. Faith bids me to hope in this bright tomorrow. Faith demands that I look at the brighter side of life.

Mary concludes her poem with words that sum up our hope for the coming year:

We expect a bright tomorrow,

All will be well.

Faith can sing through days of sorrow,

All, all is well.

On our Father’s love relying,

Jesus every need supplying,

in our living, in our dying,

all must be well

One thing I so admire about the child is the idea that the gratitude they had offered for the wheelchair wasn’t enough. This one child believed that their gratitude extends even to heaven - their hope was to see Femi, the benefactor, in heaven, and then thank him once more.

This is a faith that can sing through days of sorrow with the belief that all will be well, that all must be well because this faith relies solely on the Father’s love.

On whose love do you rely?

This is my hope for tomorrow, my hope for the coming year of 2023. I cannot guarantee that all will be rosy, but with faith, we can sing through the days of sorrow.

Relying on the Father’s love, I expect tomorrow to be as bright as the first day of creation. I expect the coming year to be glorious. I expect the coming year to be heavenly because we can tap into this child’s joy and hope.

It has been a long year, and you may not need a wheelchair, but we can all make do with a lift from the floor upon which we crawl.

I wish you all a glorious and Happy New Year.


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