I remember sitting in my closet and crying out to God.
I was a newlywed, we just moved to a new state and I had no friends. We just had a miscarriage. Three people close to me died within a month. My truck was taken away. We were eating eggs for dinner most nights and we were just starting our ministry. I didn’t see any fruit of the ministry that God told us we would have one day. What a stressful season!
If you ever hit a rough patch in your life, you can understand how I felt during that season.
If I can be honest, it's always tough when you look up and you feel so far from God or it seems like things just aren't working out in your life. I have learned that the absence of problems does not mean the absence of the Lord.
So, as I began to search the scriptures, I was literally begging God for hope, I came across this scripture – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12
Don’t be surprised, God? I’m more like shocked. Frustrated. Depressed. Then, He took me to James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Joy? I don’t have any of that, Lord. I think I’ve thrown it away. Then, I heard in my spirit – “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” – Hebrews 10:35
Well, in reality, I am surprised, I have no joy and I realized that I have thrown away my confidence because of these tough times. Have you ever been in that place? Where you’ve thrown away your confidence, your joy and your hope in the Lord?
I know that you don’t understand. I know that you’re confused about your current season. I know you want this season to get better.
In that test, I learned a few things.
1. I can't earn God with my good deeds. I don't spend time with Him for self-sufficiency; I spend time with Him because I desperately need to be close to Him. You cannot be close to someone you ignore and do not spend time with on a regular basis. Spending time with the Lord is like your power source. We are wise enough to plug up our phones when they go dead but when our spirit man is starved for "'power" from the Lord - we fill it with TV, social media & hanging out with friends.
2. God is close to me, even if my feelings say otherwise. I had to learn that I cannot depend on my feelings to determine if God is with me or not. I firmly and boldly say that in the name of Jesus, GOD is with you. He won't fail you OR forsake you! Trust in Him alone!
3. I have learned that God will protect me from busting down doors that I am not supposed to enter. I know it's hard when you feel like certain doors should be open over your life. I know you had a plan in your head to have this promotion by 30, married by 31 and 2 kids with a white picket fence by 34. I encourage you to lay down those plans. Frustration is birthed when expectations aren't met. Give your hope and expectations to the One that created you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) So, settle right now in the name of Jesus that God's timing is perfect. Spend time with Him so that He will give you perspective; refuel you and give you hope. Remember that “..And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.
4. Refuse to compare your life to others. In the midst of this test, it’s vital that you are focused on Jesus Christ, not what everyone else is doing. You are graced to be you, not anyone else.
5. Guard your heart. Spend time with other believers, in church and in small groups. This is not the time to run back to your past or what is comfortable.
If I could leave you with anything – I would encourage you with “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your position and stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
I know that it’s hard right now. I know that you don’t completely understand, but rejoice anyway. Joy is birthed when all of hell is breaking loose in your life but you STILL decide to stand and trust God. It’s when it looks like you’re about to get evicted; you have to remember that God’s hand is still on you. It’s when your heart is completely broken, you have to stand up and declare, “God is close to those who are broken hearted.” I will pass this test. I will overcome. I will not quit on God. I will not give up!
In that tough season, God restored so much more, including a worldwide ministry, temporary things, two beautiful babies and a decision to make our marriage work. I stand seven years later and I understand that everything on this earth is temporary. The tests I experienced made me stronger, more resilient and a better woman for Jesus. So, stay focused. This too shall pass.
Heather Lindsey is a speaker, author, first lady of The Gathering Oasis Church and founder of Pinky Promise – an non-profit organization that encourages women to honor God with their life and body. She is the author of several books including her most recent, The Runaway Bride. You can connect with Heather on her blog.