My life has been a testament of God's grace to overcome challenges in a miraculous way. He enables me to not only survive painful situations but also thrive despite them, in what Jesus calls the abundant life (John 10:10).
I was born with a rare heart condition—my heart is literally on the opposite side of my body, functioning in a way that is entirely unnatural—a condition known as L-transposition of the great arteries. This rare deformity caused loss of blood to other parts of my body, which my parents were told would eventually (and probably quickly) lead to my certain death.
Along with this extremely rare congenital disability, I had other health complications. As my parents received this horrible news after my birth, they were crushed, as you can imagine. They were told that 90% of children born with my condition die in the first year, and if I survived, I would not live a normal life. My grandma, who is known as the wise old owl of our family, held me and spoke these words over me: "He is going to be just fine because God has an important plan for his life." It is to God’s credit that she was right. My life has been challenging, to say the least. I would undergo years of hospitalization, many surgeries, and what seemed like an endless, hopeless situation. But as the years went on, God would miraculously sustain me.
By eleven years old, I was plagued with constant sickness. One of the hardest things to deal with as a child was having two brothers who were the perfect picture of health. They excelled in school and athleticism. One evening, I was attending an award ceremony for my oldest brother. His teachers and coaches went on and on about how talented and athletic he was. He was the star of the school's athletic program. Later that night, I found myself in my room, looking up at my ceiling, examining myself. I said to God, "If you are real, why did you make me like this? I am always sick, I can't play sports like everyone else, people are always staring at me, I am socially awkward, I have severe learning disabilities...." I seemed to face massive roadblocks at every possible turn. I believed these roadblocks were unmovable and would often fixate on them, making them even more unmovable.
To make matters worse, every day I endured endless bullying because I was different. Depression had almost completely taken hold of me. The idea of ending my life became a consistent battle. Day after day, I would ask God, "Why me? Why me? God, if you are real, please take this pain away from me!" It was truly a living nightmare. I felt confident that I had no future and no hope of a better life.
During this trying time, I did not have very many friends. It surprised me one evening when my neighbor randomly invited me to her church youth group. The idea of a youth group was strange to me. Nevertheless, I was desperate to make new friends, so I went. That evening, God did something miraculous in me.
I was told that Jesus could make me new. I wanted to be new so badly!
I repented of my sin and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. From that point on, Jesus truly made me new. He not only transformed me spiritually but also healed my mind and body. That same year, I had my fourth open-heart surgery. Soon after, I started gaining strength. My doctors had never seen such improvement in a patient—since this surgery, I have been able to live a completely normal life. I attribute this to the grace of God in my life. I completed high school and Bible college at the top of my class and went on to get a master’s degree. Today, I am fulfilling God’s calling in youth ministry.
Although my situation is somewhat unique, God’s redemptive power isn’t. He is the master of healing people through their pain. I do not know where you are at in your life’s journey, but I do know this—God’s plan for your life is something you don’t want to miss. It will fulfill you deeply. God wants to give you a story marked with powerful works of faith and transform you into a new creation. Your life will never make sense until you give it to God in total surrender!
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Chad Forte works with teens in the youth department at Living Well Church of the Nazarene. He has more than 17 years of experience in youth ministry and loves speaking to teens at youth events and camps. Chad also works in an educational program for incarcerated inmates. He holds an undergraduate degree in theological studies and a master’s degree in religious education.
Please note: This article was originally published in 2021. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.