As another crazy, yet blessed year comes to a close, I find myself glancing back at what I have accomplished, how far I have come, and how much I have grown. I think it is truly amazing how God uses all things to bring growth and glory in my life, and in the lives of all his children (including you!).
This past year, like so many before it, has seen its share of pain and anguish: the death of my father, my uncle, and a close friend, family chaos and fighting (which often sadly occurs when death comes), broken relationship and a shattered heart, an unexpected move, and financial strain. Yet, oddly enough, this year brought beauty, healing, love, and provision through it all.
You see, despite the pain and suffering, God was in it all, working his will, his plan, his glory through all of it. Pain and suffering is a normal part of life and an integral part of spiritual growth.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Hebrews 5:5-8 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Jesus Christ Himself was not exempt from the pain and suffering of this world. Pain and suffering in your life is one way that God prunes you, building you up and making you stronger. Much like a great work out at the gym, there is often pain afterward (even during the workout as you push yourself), but the results are wonderful in the long run if you keep working out and building up muscles that increase your strength. Another example is the olive tree. A farmer must cut (or prune) the branches back in order for the tree to produce a more abundant crop the next season. If it is not pruned, it grows unkempt, producing less fruit, and therefore yielding less profit for the farmer.
John 15:1-3 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
You and I are the branches on the tree of life, and if we are not pruned, we tend to not bear the fruit of righteousness, purity, or holiness. We become weak, wild, and unkempt, losing sight of what we are here for–to produce fruit that brings honor and glory to the Lord, bringing others into his kingdom, showing the light of God for all to see.
Pain and suffering in this life are also motivators for growth. When you get stuck in the mundane routines of life–work, family, home, friends, etc., it is easy to get comfortable and not change or stretch outside of your comfort zone. Going back to the workout example, if you keep doing the same exercise routine day in and day out, you will see results, but eventually they will plateau and your workout routine will be only for maintaining, rather than continued strengthening. Even weight loss will fade if the workout routine stays the same. You have to change things up to see continued results, to build more muscle mass, to thin out more, and to tone consistently.
Spiritual growth is similar. If church and scripture become mundane routines, the same thing day in and day out, you will get stuck, your spiritual growth will plateau. God wants your spiritual growth to excel, to continue to grow each and every day. This means that you have to be forced out of your comfort zone sometimes, and often the only way to get you to do that is through pain and suffering. When life is grand, going smoothly, and you have no worries or stress, God tends to be put on the back seat. Ever notice that your prayer life and devotional time picks up a great deal when there is pain, suffering, trials, or tribulations in your life. That is because during those times, your reliance on God is stronger and more evident. You can’t fix things, make them better, or change them, and thus you seek God, seek His will, His discernment and wisdom to handle all that you are facing. You may even reach out to others in your community–church, work, home, neighborhood–for help and guidance.
Often during the most painful times in our lives, we are forced to take responsibility for our failures and learn how to adapt and change so as to not make the same mistakes next time. Other times, we are confronted with requests that take us out of our cushy comfortable place to become a witness and light for God. It may be that you are asked to forgive someone who has hurt or betrayed you. Perhaps you are being called to share your pain with someone in order to show the glory of God as he brings you through it. Maybe the pain in your life is building perseverance, patience, or other spiritual fruits in your own life. Whatever it may by, God is using the pain and suffering to motivate change and growth in your life.
James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 5:11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Romans 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
Though I faced my share of pain and suffering in 2014, I can look back on each and every moment and see God’s mighty hand at work through the entire event. Through the deaths that came into my life, I was able to find courage and strength to do what was right midst the chaos and family fighting. Though my heart was broken and a relationship ruined, I was given comfort and wisdom midst the storm, making a few of the toughest decisions of my life, which ultimately brought peace to me and my son. Even through the financial difficulties, God changed my view of budgeting, helping me save more than I have before. In the moments of pain and suffering, I didn’t always see his mighty hand at work, but looking back on the year, it is evident he was with me, guiding, building, refining, and growing me into the woman of God he designed.
So, my friends, fret not when you are facing pain, trials, tribulations, or suffering, for in time, God will produce an abundance of fruit, helping you change the old patterns of life, enabling you to grow spiritually! With that said, I look forward to another year and what may come–the good, the bad, and the ugly! Bring it on, for with God, we can all rest assured that good will come, hope will be renewed, and the future will be bright.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God bless and keep you in the coming year and always! May you rejoice midst the pain and suffering, knowing that God is working all things for your good! He is with you always and forever, and will never leave you nor forsake you, providing all you need to face all that comes your way.
In Christ’s Love ❤
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
~ Psalm 150:6 ~
Praise Him Evermore
Prince of Peace
Lord of lords
Come as a little Babe
Humble and in the flesh
God’s answer to a lost world
Praise and glory be to Him
For all He has done
Glory and honor to the King of kings
Blessed are we to have such a gift
You our Savior and Lord
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God,
for it is written,
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him,
and if he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ Romans 12:18-21 ~
When life appears dim, and circumstances are beyond your control, there is always HOPE!!
HOPE in God
HOPE in change
HOPE in beauty
HOPE in kindness
HOPE in grace
HOPE in mercy
HOPE in forgiveness
HOPE in tomorrow
HOPE in faith
HOPE in love
HOPE in Christ
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 3:12-14
The beautiful thing about walking with God is knowing he does not judge the past. He doesn’t stress about where you have been, what you have done, or the skeletons you hide in the closet. He cares about where you are going and what your future holds. God desires to make each and every one of us new, drawing us into his presence, making us righteous and holy. When we accept the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ and repent of our sins, God forgives us for what we have done and buries our sin in the depths of the sea, never to be remembered again. YOU are made new!!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving-kindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. ~ Psalm 103:10-12
Who is a God like You,
who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. ~ Micah 7:18-19
As you journey through this world, take some time to seek the Lord and know that though there may be things in your past that you have to deal with or get help to overcome, God washes them away from his thoughts. You are free in Christ and made new! Trust in the promise and revel in the joy only he can bring to your life.
Jonathan Thulin has a beautiful song and the lyrics remind us that it is today that counts, not what was done in the past.
All my love ❤
The more I seek, the more I find! The farther I fall, the deeper I dive into you O Lord! The harder life hits, the more I seek you! Be my vision, be my guide, be my all in this world dear Lord. May I thirst for you, hunger for you, strive to be like you. Though I may fall short, though I may sin, though I am weak and restless….may my heart and soul always long for you. May your passion well up and shine brighter than the noon day sun. I will praise you O Lord in all things, especially amidst the pain and turmoil of this life!
Everyday is a battle, be it small or large, whether against others, circumstances, challenges, or your own flesh. The war rages between right and wrong, just and unjust, worldly and ethereal. Scripture asserts that you fight not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). The flesh is of this world, and leans toward carnality and sinfulness, but the spirit is attentive to the things of heaven, and thus the dissention continues: the spirit seeks the things of heaven, but the flesh pulls it in a totally different direction (thus I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I should to do).
All through the battle though, God is there. His power, His might, His wisdom, and His protection are constantly guiding, holding, and winning the war. Ephesians 6 continues to remind you to put on the full armor of God that you will be able to stand against the forces of evil that come against you (Ephesians 6:11 and 13-17).
Keep fighting, stand strong in the Lord, and trust in Him to see you through the battles. Even when you fall, fail to stay the course, or flat-out sin….stop, turn your eyes to the God of heaven, and cast your sin upon Him. Give it all to God (the bad, the ugly, the wicked)and with great love, mercy, and grace He will lift you up, give you strength to get back to the path of righteousness, and fill you with hope for a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
God is good! God is faithful!
Trust in Him, and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths! (Proverbs 4:26)
All my love ❤
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
Lord I feel you
Know you are directing me
But still I struggle
Who am I?
How do I know?
Shame and guilt still reside
My heart cries out
I want not more pain
I want to live in you
I am a walking contradiction
In a love-hate relationship with myself
I know Satan wants to use me
Beat me and destroy my hope and future
He wants me to fail
Constantly he banters
You are carnal
You are not worthy, hopeless and lost
Indeed that is true
A sinner I will always be
But You gave Your all to set me free
Why can’t I let go?
What will it take?
With the new year comes the opportunity to leave the old behind, and focus on the future and the things to come. Now is not the time to regret what you have done, or where you have been, but it is the time to repent, forgive, and press on for the eternal glory of God.
Live life to the fullest this year, and love the life you have. It may not be perfect. It may not be easy. In fact your life may be complicated, difficult, or you may be going through grief and loss. However, even amidst the pain, there is hope. In the midst of complications, there is peace, and in the difficult times there is wisdom and endurance. All these things are at your fingertips; only a prayer away. Ask God into your heart, claim the beauty, grace, mercy, and peace of Christ for yourself. Surrender your circumstances to the One and Only Lord of all Creation for He is bigger than all that you face!
Find the beauty in life, even when in the center of life’s storms!! Remember, where there is rain, a rainbow comes. Where there are fires, new life grows. Where there is snow and ice, the buds of spring come forth. You are more blessed than you realize. Just breath, seek, and find the glory of God that satisfies!
Now is the time to begin again!
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:13-14