“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ… “. (1 Peter 1:6-7)”
Carolyn and I have had a year of hell. Most of our close friends know that by now. But God!
HERE COMES MORE VULNERABILITY
Let me be very vulnerable for a moment and share things that most preachers will not share with you. You see, many ministers hesitate to share their deepest struggles and challenges, because they think it will be a stumbling block to their people, infuse doubt, and won’t help them. I beg to differ. I think the opposite is true. They need to know that we are not Supermen, but in our humanity are subject to the same weaknesses and infirmities they are. This actually encourages people.
The genuineness of our faith is tested in our trials. And nothing else. You can hear the Word, quote the Word, boast in your faith, act like you are a mighty man or woman of God etc., but when the fat meets the fire, you will learn that only in great trials can great faith be birthed and great victories obtained.
It touches God’s heart very deeply when we rejoice in times of grievous trials, especially when you don’t fully understand. Get that. If you can overcome the devil’s accusations of God to us during such hardship you are the big winner and your faith will soar.
Sometimes you have to be like a chicken on a june bug with your praise. Like Paul and Silas in the prison (Acts 16). They prayed but the great miracle didn’t come until they began to praise. Oh! I sense His Spirit on that word, because so many are in this place right now. Praising God in your hardship, trials, and disappointments is not easy but takes great faith. Most of our trials are primarily in two areas: attacks on our physical bodies and finances. And faith for both is a little different.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of our physical health challenges with FB friends, but very little concerning our financial challenges. In short, we have lived from miracle to miracle through the sustaining power of God’s great provision. We’ve been quiet about that part because we had a witness in our spirits not to share it, but to throw ourselves over on the Father’s love and care when the devil was accusing God to us day and night. But we will save that part of our testimony for another time, because it is so awesome and will encourage many to trust the Lord more for His great provision and favor in financial matters.
Some days all I could say to combat what the enemy of our souls was tempting me with in his constant non-stop accusations against God was to lift my hands and say, “Thank you, Father for your goodness and your mercy.” The devil’s greatest temptation during a year of pure hell for my wife and I was to have us blame God, to let our disappointment lead to bitterness, and to doubt His love and faithfulness to us.
LET ME BE BRUTALLY HONEST
I must admit there were times when my insomnia was so bad from the stroke, that it drove me to think that it was better to die than live. The same was true with Carolyn.
She’s had not one or two or three, but 6 surgeries, and may need one more skin graft to cover her large open wound. But it was her radiation treatments that did the big damage and fried her lower leg so severely, that it not only killed the cancer cells but also muscles, tendons, tissue and blood vessels. Her pain levels were so unbearable at times that she would tell me she didn’t want to live any more. Even recently I’ve been up several nights with her and once had to rush her to the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning. She still can’t walk but the pain is beginning to ease through better pain management and the hyperbaric oxygen therapy she is now receiving daily. As soon as I’m able to leave her side, I’ll be doing that, too in order to reclaim what was lost through the stroke.
To be honest with you, at times my emotions would fluctuate between utter helplessness and brokenness and then anger and yelling at God. “God, don’t you care?! Where are you?! I can’t take this any more?! This is so cruel?!” It was so hard to see my bride in excruciating pain. And the Father would comfort us and reassure us that the glory was coming. I’ve shared the scripture that I kept close to my heart all this time but it bears sharing it again, because some may need it right now. Here it is:
“You have been carried by Me from your birth and been carried in My arms from the womb, even to your advanced age I will carry you! I have made you, and I will carry you; be assured I will carry you and I will save you.” (Is. 46:3-4)
Oh how I’ve grown to love this word! I still weep when I read it and ponder the depths of it. Oh, how He loves us and cares for us even when we don’t understand what we’re going through. We trust Him because we know Him as Father. I get choked up every time I call Him Father now, and that age old Christian hymn comes rising up in my spirit, “Great is Thy faithfulness”… and I weep some more and then laugh with joy unspeakable and full of glory. This has been my sustaining power all through this trial.
NOW HERE’S THE GOLD
I know this is another lengthy post, and it still amazes that people are reading these, liking and loving them, and commenting. I’m truly humbled and honored that you would. My motive is to simply bless you with His great love that continues to touch and melt my heart. Now bear me with me just a little longer while I conclude with this incomprehensible love.
“That He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in LOVE may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the LOVE of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the FULNESS of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).
Notice the connection between knowing the love of Christ and being filled with all the fulness of God.
Knowing the width, length, depth, and height of His love that passes your intellectual knowledge is how you will come to be filled with all the fullness of God. This is the greatest transformation anyone can receive in this life.
HIS LOVE IS HIS FULNESS IN YOU
To be filled with the revelation of God’s love is to be filled with all His fullness. There is nothing greater. As disciples of Jesus, we’ve got to move past identifying ourselves with anyone or anything outside of Christ — whether it be our failures, weaknesses, infirmities, our greatest achievements/accomplishments, man’s acceptance and approval, performance and what we do or don’t do, our jobs/careers and status in life, our churches, ministries, finances and so on — and move into a full-fledged identity with His love.
The heart that knows he is loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ ceases to look elsewhere for love, peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment. His delight is in the Lord. He has found his dwelling place and his rest in Him. When you receive a revelation of His deep love for you, it will put a pure delight and contentment in your soul. It is then that you will truly live free and full.
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