I wasn’t sure how to start this one, except to jump right in. This blog is directed towards those in the faith walk who feel like they get blind sided with the left hook of “what the___?” from time to time. You were just living all obedient & sacrificial. Prayer filled & serving…. now THIS? While standing in your devastated spot, you realize you aren’t practicing the praise & faith you are standing so firm on. Despite the other emotions churning inside, now you have to either A. internalize this confusion B. fess up & tell someone. Maybe you feel if you actually share your feelings of despair, someone will think your faith is lacking & well, that you’ve been full of it. How can I share this flesh feeling & have someone who may be growing in their faith, see this. I do not want to discourage their walk, kind of thinking. I just recently passed through a season of this. And I went through it as silent as I could. It was a miserable process because I thought being silent was what I was supposed to do. I received affirmation through prayer & through my current Bible study, to open my mouth, my laptop or whatever I could & tell someone else….. IT’S OK TO FEEL DEFLATED. Feeling this way does not discredit or down size your faith. How you handle these moments & how long you entertain them is a different story. Hopefully in less than 10 thousand words, I can share with you a few things that I felt a great relief over knowing.
I am pretty sure people subconsciously think living a life for Christ kind of exempts them/us from the stuff sometimes. I think in our spoiled, Americanized way of the, all about my needs syndrome, we do think God sprinkles some special favor over a select few, so when things arise we stand in utter shock. We have NO idea what to do. Our Bible says in trials & in joys, in ALL things give praise, but we all know standing in the midst of “bad news” very few hit their knees & raise their hands….. so we start questioning things . Our faith, our feelings, our service, our walk in general; things. Somehow we have inherited the idea if we feel broken or hurt, we are to feel even worse by self inflicting guilt on ourselves about feeling it, because to share it verbally would mean we are disrespecting God. That is a lie. A lie that should be addressed. We should have arms & mouths open to let each other know we all go through these times & we shouldn’t be hiding inside or behind ourselves.
I am going to share some things from my recent study, Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I won’t take her bullet points as my own & just like she, I will say anything shared outside opinion is that which is solely led by God. This study has been the most powerful I have ever encountered to date. It has taken me through the weeds & I am so grateful for what God has taught/revealed/shined his light on these past few months. There were trials inside myself I wasn’t even aware were in battle with one another. Some major strongholds. I am so thankful we can re-visit God’s word for a lifetime & no matter how much we know it or how often we read it, His word has something to offer every season of our lives…… praise filled or in the storms.
Now please do not confuse the trials I am talking about with the trials that people put on themselves. 2 different things. We do not have control over many of life’s afflictions (disease, death, trauma, issues with our kids) But, we do have control over the ditches we dig & fall into; it’s what she called figuring out our tribulations vs our irritations. Most likely the majority of society like to get into the proverbial “peeing contest” over who has gone through the worse possible things in life….ever. They surround selves with friends who agree with them or try to outdo their stories & you end up with a group of enablers repeating, convincing, justifying, over dramatizing & gossiping their way into self consumed “depression”. All the while preaching how much they hate that sort of thing. <——- that friends is not the tribulation & hardships that we are talking about here. That’s a choice. You have to fix that one yourself by choosing to change. It’s likely most spoiled Americans haven’t actually “suffered” anything—- hunger, poverty, neglect, hardships. If you are low on money & you have a boat load of modern day luxuries & designer what nots….that ain’t suffering!!! That’s living beyond your means & filling voids or trying to maintain society’s twisted idea of what success looks like. People talking behind your back isn’t suffering. Not being happy with your job, isn’t suffering. I am referring to the take you to your knees, I cannot breathe moments. The what next feeling. 5 minutes ago my life was “normal”, now how on Earth do I take the next breath, much less continue onward to normalness.
Some bullet points from our lesson this particular day was on fiery trials. Praise God we don’t have to walk through them alone or be the only ones who face them. A few I thought were useful:
- God will never allow or appoint a fire unless He can bring beauty from the ashes. Here’s a little nugget of info if you didn’t know: when gold is heated impurities float to the top & can be skimmed off, allowing the one creating the fire to refine the gold. This leads to the key scripture for the blog post, 1 Peter 1:6-9 “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls”.
- God is much more interested in our callings than our comfort
- Even faithful people have tremendous difficulties. John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
- We cannot refuse the fire, but we can refuse to be refined by it. Meaning, we may miss the glory or the meaning in what His purpose is, if we are content with “rolling around in it” for any period of time. Or become angry & resentful in the circumstance. God is there, intending to heal. Get up…..let Him.
- Sometimes our fiery trials are absolutely necessary to fulfill our callings. I absolutely LOVE how The Message translates 1 Peter 1:6-7, I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
The last point really hits/hit home with me. I think the people I know in my life that are on fire for Christ, exploding in their faith, certainly have a testimony that many would stand jaw dropped to hear. People say, “How on Earth can someone dealing with or having dealt with THAT, believe in God’s goodness, or have faith that strong? I don’t get it” I can personally answer a portion of that based on those I have seen God transform through cancers, extreme life conditions, even death. Their stories are so profound to me because they didn’t seem to just suffer or anger through them; they found a peace through Christ. However, that peace doesn’t have to wait to be found through hardship…..we can have it whenever we want. But, often times it takes a giant spoonful of desperation or the wall of pride & self control broken down, before we see how in need of a Savior we really are. Most people don’t cry out to God when everything in life is trucking right along the way we want it too.
I can tell you, I have faced a lot of hardship in my own life. Some completely at the hand(s) of others & some at my own. An example of faith for my household- had you told me prior to my pregnancy with my daughter, that she’d be born 5wks early, we would almost lose her the night she was born, she would have a rare disease, we would be given 1 diagnosis & expectation of the abnormal almost weekly, she’d spend her first 2yrs constantly in specialists offices being poked with needles, she’d have several behavioral issues that spun off of those things, she’d never sleep, she’d barf & constantly choke for 6+ months due to this disease, she’d be tested for down’s, she’d end up with glasses because we didn’t know she could barely see for 2+yrs……..(I could go on) But, my point, is had you have told me that we would find the greatest moments of peace with God during these extreme trials I would’ve assumed you were insane. And I am someone who “knew” God at an early age. That my husband & son would not only find their salvation, but I would refind mine. That I would lead Women Ministry & be a part of a homeless ministry & be called to a list of service & opportunities, that I feel so thankful that’s so long I can’t list them all. That my son would have a call to mission work at 14 & it’s still growing, that we as a family would raise our hands to God vs our fists…..had you told me this I would’ve told you, you were a lunatic. And had you told me that my family would change in ALL those areas of life & restructure our hearts, desires & thinking & do so in less than 2yrs time I would’ve laughed in your face. This was a major shift. What I will tell you, in that adversity, in those moments of calling God straight out & demanding He prove to us what His word says He can do. In reminding God that He is faithful & will never take us where we cannot glorify Him, I asked Him to help me glorify Him & to help me change my life. And what did I get by trusting Him? I have more miracles under one roof than most people are blessed to experience in a lifetime. That is a fact! Not circumstance, not statistical, but flat out miracles. Private moments of supernatural type events that don’t make it to FB or make it to blogs. We have a testimony that almost seems fabricated when I sit & recount the events of my lifetime. Why me? Why us?
Are we special or favored? Are we deserving? No. But, as the last point proves, from the time I was a toddler, until I type this sentence, God knew there would be a moment I would return to Him. I would trust Him. I would praise Him & give Him the glory. I would let Him use my life song to sing loudly & relate & minister to & pray for others. I would not allow Christ to have died for me & my daughter & my family to be miracles, to let it all have happened in vain. To just forget it. He knew I would seek Him wholeheartedly. He knew. Only in this season of my life do I really get Him & His plans. Not fully nor completely, but enough to know I never want to go back to who I was before today. I want to, with His power break through the “red tape” & legalism & laziness, so you know Him too. I want my children to know this early in life, not later. I want them to have strong journeys in faith, but not because they were crippled under the weight of life or bad choices; reaching to Him out of exhaustion & desperation at the rope’s end.
I fail sometimes. I need spiritual re-boosts. I spend hrs a day with God one on one. It is a 24-7 relationship & always will be. But, so is my marriage, so is parenting. I have wondered or thought many times in my life, “God, why me? Weren’t you there when I was little? Don’t you know you could’ve stopped things? Don’t you know I didn’t deserve that? Don’t you know I chose all of the other messy things because they were backlashes of what I’d gone through?” Trust me I have asked Him many times. Now I have some clarity. My peace about all of it, my thinking now over the whole 39 yr journey, is exactly as Philippians 4:7 states. It is clearly a peace from God that surpasses all understanding. Because if I or anyone or any thing else would have been capable, of settling my mind or bringing that peace, it would have happened prior to my asking God to take over. All those other outlets would have worked.
You yourself, may be in a state of life’s perfection, having no idea what I am typing about. OR you may be someone of faith afraid to cry out because you don’t want to “disrespect God” or seem down on your faith. Maybe you have no idea how to be faith filled or even start. Maybe you’re just plain angry. I can only tell you that your feelings are justified & taking all of those feelings & ideas right to Him will eventually heal you. God doesn’t need an organized, theatrical way to pray, He just waits for your heart to lead your words. Even if your words can only come as tears. Some things may take a while to see come to fruition, but I assure you they will. There will be sacrifice & obedience, with tremendous results & contentment. Long term contentment. And when you question, I wonder how things might have ended up had so & so not happened, or had I not had to go through that. Remember what I heard last week & rest in the following; God knew you were going to be something FAR greater, healed, than you would have been well.
“You are making one spot of Earth a Holy Place”- AJ Russell. Faith is not some unseen, magical emotion that Christ followers use an excuse or a crutch. It’s quite the opposite. Faith to me is the equivalent of trust & it takes a depth of strength & self control to center yourself & decide to rely on that trust to guide you through every day. It is not for the weak minded nor is it a fairy tale emotion, but it is something that requires a mind that longs for something deeper, something permanent & something life changing. I pray that your faith too, will be strengthened & renewed every day. That you will understand the simplicity in what the world complicates.