John was an 190 pound, ultra-marathoner finishing his doctoral dissertation.ā€‹ What started with the feelings of the flu in October 2008, within a few days had him admitted to the hospital with an illness the doctors could not identify. Within a few weeks his weight increased to 260 pounds. By the time he left the hospital 3 months later, he would be a scrawny 140 pounds. He would have to learn everything over again. It would be months before he could walk again. Because the muscles in his throat quit working, he couldn’t eat or drink. He had to be fed by a feeding tube for a year and a half.


This is the story of Dr. John Stumbo, as of last Thursday, the president-elect of the Alliance. Many of you may be familiar with Dr. Stumbo’s journey. He has recounted it in the book he wrote with his wife titled, An Honest Look at a Mysterious Journey. If you are not familiar with his story, I recommend you buy this book. You will enjoy it because it is a well-written, mind-blowing account of John’s ordeal, but you will value it for insights that can only come facing life’s difficult questions.
It was over two months into the illness before he could read for himself again. The first thing he turned to was the book of Job. He does not compare his crisis to Job’s. Job lost children, reputation, wealth, and health. All Dr. Stumbo lost was his health. But he does relate to Job’s story. There were 5 insights he took comfort in:

  1. The righteous grieve. He says, “It is possible to be righteous and to grieve. Some forms of Christianity seem to downplay the importance of grief. Job’s story teaches me that it is okay to despise my current situation…at least for a season” (pg 87). To be a Christian does not mean to be quick to leave grief.
  2. The righteous suffer. He says, “It is possible to be righteous and yet suffer. Not all evil that befalls us is the direct result of sin” (pg 88).
  3. God can be good and life bad simultaneously. He says, “It is possible for God to be good while allowing seasons of difficulty–even heart-crushing pain–to enter our lives” (pg 88).
  4. “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22). He says, “It is possible to take our grief too far” (pg 88). Job articulates deep grief, loathing his existence (10:1) and the day he was born (10:18); but Scripture says he never crossed the line into sin (1:22; 2:10), because he didn’t say anything wrong against God. He says, “Somehow, in the midst of my honest wrestling and angry emotion, I must learn from Job’s example and stop short of finding fault with God. He is good. He can be trusted…even when I don’t understand or appreciate what He is up to” (pg 88).
  5. The bottom can be a beginning. He says, “It is possible for our faith to be rebuilt in adversity. Devastating events strip our faith down to its naked form” (pg 88). But even when we are reduced to nothing, we can still have hope, because we can turn to God.

There is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from Dr. Stumbo’s experience. His story is a great resource to resort to during doubt. discouragement, or difficulty. As well, this is a book to hand a friend that has faced or is facing a crisis.

We all look forward to seeing how this story gets translated into the next chapter of the Alliance story as Dr. Stumbo provides leadership for the coming years.

Dr. Stumbo’s website and blog
Purchase An Honest Look
Purchase His devotional In the Midst
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