Over the past several years, the prayer request voiced most often by the women in our church has been this: “Please pray that I will be bold.” They recognize the world’s need for Jesus, and they want to move past their fear and hesitancy to a place of willingness, wherever God places them.
The second most voiced request is for God’s grace in trying circumstances. It wasn’t until recently that I saw a connection between these two prayers.
Two years ago, I entered into the most difficult season of my life. I didn’t see it coming (but God did). I didn’t think that what I went through was possible to a Christian. Because of this, I felt isolated, and there were a very few people who knew my circumstances and prayed for me. I needed their prayers–because there were times I didn’t have the words to pray for myself. This is the armor of God, used by the Body for the Body, corporately. I felt lost.
Afterward, I was very numb. I was so emotionally bruised, it took a very long time to bounce back. During that same time frame, there were several prominent Christian leaders who walked away from their faith, and I just remember feeling compassion for them. I knew they were making a mistake, but I didn’t feel judgy because I understood that to be sifted literally means to be pushed to the edge of one’s faith, like Peter. Instead, I wondered what those men had been through. How had they been pushed? What lies did they fall for? They need our prayers.
Why does God allow us to be sifted? Why is it that He more often brings us through trials, rather than lift us out of them? It can be like being thrown into a sieve and shaken so violently that everything without value falls away and down through those tiny holes beneath your feet. If you look to God to ground you, what’s left is what matters, and that is ALL that we need.
In trials, our faith has the opportunity to become solid, and timidity melts away. There is a shift, maybe small at first, but perceptible and persistent, until we know that we know what we know.
Historians have written about the life of Joseph and his time in prison in Egypt. He was not guilty to deserve being in prison, but it is recorded that iron entered into him during that time. God used his time in prison to grow his understanding of God’s faithfulness, and Joseph became God’s instrument to lead in Egypt.
Another example? I heard a snippet of a Charles Swindoll sermon in the car last week. He was saying that parents tend to want to run ahead of their children to prepare the road for them, to protect their children from difficulty; but, we can’t prepare the road for our children. “You can’t prepare the world for your children;” he said, “You have to prepare your children for the world.”
That’s why God allows trials. They prepare us to face what’s ahead without crumbling under the pressure of the world. That’s what it means to be placed here for such a time and place as this. God doesn’t just place us here. He prepares us for here and now.
I’m not always thankful for the trial, but I am thankful for who I am because of it. It’s like, if my God brought me through that, there is nothing He will not bring me through. I was recently asked this question: “Would you rather have a microphone or a paperweight?”
“What do they mean?” I replied.
“Microphones are for sharing something. And paperweights are for keeping something.”
Well, a heavy microphone could make a good paperweight if you turn it off and put it down, but I’ve learned too much to keep it to myself. Do you want to put me behind a microphone? Bring it on. I am alive when I didn’t know if I would be. My emotions have healed when it seemed impossible. And I can sing or speak in front of a room of people without worrying over it afterward. Such freedom. When did the shift happen? When I started caring more what people think about my God than what they think of me.
Do you see the connection?
The more bold the lines of our faith (pronounced, tangible), the more bold we become (fearless, daring, courageous).
Have you experienced the shift? How has God used the hard things to move you past hesitancy and make you bold?
My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.”James 1:2-4, The Passion Translation
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.