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 ❤
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
~ Isaiah 61:1-3 ~
Sent by the Father
This babe anointed and pure
Praise Him forever
Everyone wrestles with the world, with its perceptions and views of what and who we are to be. We often wrestle with doubt, fear, hurt, condemnation, and anxiety. However, God is greater than all that we face, feel, think, or wrestle with! He is the Victor, and through Him we find freedom and victory no matter what we battle.
May the peace of God surround you and fill you with the knowledge that you are God’s child, His joy and His creation, and He loves you and will be with you through it all.
God bless and keep you always!
All my love ❤
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all Your good deeds.
~ Psalm 73:28
Lord, You are so Good to Me!
Lord God You are so good to me
Blessing me beyond compare
Each day You give me all I need
Never giving more than I can bear
I trust You to heal me completely
Making me healthy and new
Hearing my prayers and pleas
I humbly bring them before You
Lord You bring me comfort
Filling me with peace and love
Providing understanding and support
Blessing me with angels from heaven above
For Your continuing healing upon me
I thank You so very much
My praise to You will forever be
Thank You for Your loving touch
To You my very life I owe
Each and every day I give to You
For on my own I cannot grow
So thank You Lord for all You do
I wait on the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word I hope.
~ Psalm 130:5
I have hidden Your word in my heart
I have chosen the way of faithfulness
I have set my heart on Your laws
Be gracious to me o Lord
Give me understanding so that I may keep you law
And obey it with all my heart
Direct me in the path of Your commands
For there I find delight
Never take Your word of truth from my mouth
May I wholeheartedly follow Your decrees
To all perfection I see a limit
But Your commands are boundless
I gain understanding from Your precepts
Therefore I hate every wrong path
Your word is a lamp unto my feet
A light unto my path
Because I love Your commands
More than gold, more than pure gold
Direct my steps by Your word
And let no iniquity have dominion over me
Make Your face to shine upon Your servant
And teach me Your statutes
I have been praying and seeking guidance from the Lord for many years, but it never fails, just as life calms down the storms seem to rage again, bringing me back to my first love–The Lord Himself!
Do you ever have times in your life when you are smiling on the outside, but inside you feel chaos, fear, frustration, and anguish? Ever had times where you just want the world to stop and let you off for just a little bit–a break in the storm. Ah, there I sit in the midst of the storm, but still praising God as I know I will learn so much and be refined that much more into the image of Christ. How funny too, that as I was reading one of my online devotionals today, these scriptures should be the focus:
James 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
1 Peter 1:6,7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Romans 5:3,4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
God is indeed so good and his timing is perfect! I so needed the reminder of what God is doing in my life; of how he brings glory, goodness, and life from the chaotic storms that rage. Perhaps you are in the same boat. Maybe you are questioning why you must endure the storm or you may be tired and drained from the trials that you face. I know not what your journey is, but I do know God is with you always! He is faithful and will never leave you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Trails will come
Storms will rage
Know God will never leave you nor forsake you
Fear may set in
Anger take hold
Know the Lord will be with you through it all
Rest may elude
Know the peace of God is within your reach
Know God is refining you each and every step
Tears may fall
Know God will be the strong refuge you need
Deception flows forth
Blame is cast
Know God reveals all that is hidden in time
Pain resides within
Know that healing comes through the hand of God
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