I don't know about you but I had such a TOUGH month in January. I have recently just gotten a new job, which hasn't been easy, but somehow I get through it. I find myself asking God, "Why?" Yes, I hear God telling me to 'not be anxious, but with prayer and supplication, give my requests unto Him.'
Yes, I hear all this and sometimes, I answer back, thinking, 'I do give my requests to You, it does not seem like You answer me.'
I feel like I have been facing such a hard time - in all honesty. I know that God is teaching me a lesson here. I am constantly being belittled, bashed, rejected, bullied and it ALL took a toll on me. I was even on the verge of quitting and I would have quit if I was a quitter.
Anyway, this wasn't the point of this post. When I was going through this (and I still am), it made me think about companionship and peace. Jesus was so peaceful. The Holy Spirit, the Prince of Peace, Himself, is so peaceful. God has surrounded me with such wonderful people, my parents are so supportive and my cousin is amazing too. But these people can only give me advice, yes, but it will be nothing compared to Godly Wisdom and the Word of God.
Reading the Bible is so much more different than putting it all in practice. When you read it, you simply say 'Amen' and then go out there in the World. But when you are TESTED and TRIED, that's when your faith comes in to play. Being a Christian isn't easy. I am constantly being reminded of that. But, if you truly believe in God and you PRAY, just know your faith will be tested.
How do you react when you are tested and tried? How do you feel? Do you walk away, quit?
James 1:2 - "...when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing..."
The last thing you want to be known as is immature. You want others to see you as the mature person you consider yourself to be. The Bible's methods to maturity may seem odd, but it's true - trials. When you face hard things in life, you can still have joy because you know that God will use them to make your faith mature. God even gives us a blessing if we endure this.
James 1:12 - "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterwards, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Oh and God knows, he just KNOWS that at some point, we will get angry. But He tells us to be patient. Patience is a SKILL. I am telling you, it is a skill.
James 1:19 - "Understand this...you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives and humbly accept the Word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls."
As a follower of Jesus Christ, we have the right to expect from Him and He wants to expect the best from us. Before you give up, ask yourself whether that fits your image of Jesus Christ. Do you have the courage to keep going? You don't have to give up and quit. There is an answer and a solution to everything.
2 Timothy 4 - Paul gives advice to Timothy to keep going, to keep preaching - "I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his kingdom. Preach the Word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favourable or not. Patiently correct, and encourage your people with good teaching. There will be a time when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching....you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News and fully carry out the ministry God has given you."
Paul suffered a lot. Sometimes, I wonder what motivated him to keep going. There was something that Paul did that every single one of us should understand. We will all get tested to the point of saying 'I give up, I want to walk away. I quit.' But do you know, quitters never get anywhere in life.
So, what motivated Paul?
Paul never gave up no matter what he experienced in life because he knew he was in God's presence. In this chapter, Paul was criticised for being who he was.
2 Corinthians 11:22-28 - "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped without number and faced death, again and again. Five different times, the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once, I was stoned. Three times, I was shipwrecked. Once, I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have travelled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities in the deserts on the seas. And I have face danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, endured many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone often without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches."
So, that was a mouthful from the Apostle Paul. If I went through what Paul went through, I wonder if I would have survived. He had a lot of reasons to quit, but he was aware that God was with him. He said so much about the presence of God. Throughout the Letters from Paul, we are constantly reminded that God is with Him. How do we react? Do we know that God is with us? Or do we question Him and consider giving up? If we believe God is our refuge, our stronghold in times of trouble, do we give up? Are you willing to give up on your marriage? He said He will never leave us or forsake us. If we do not give up, we will be rewarded. Think about Paul, who went days being hungry. He was nearly killed and stoned and yet he would praise God in the prison. He never felt rejected.
Sometimes, we feel weak and then we feel like giving up. When we think about Paul's trials, we just have to know that God HAD to be his strength. Paul had strength. He was aware of God's presence and being aware of that, he was aware of God's strength. Whatever we face, we have the strength of God living within us. We have the Holy Spirit in us, within us and upon us. He strengthens us to go on. He will never leave us or forsake us. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
We all have days where we do not even have the strength to get up; but God enables us to live through it no matter what. We need to be aware of God's presence. We have the Holy Spirit living within US. We have GOD in US. He will not call us to do anything, face anything or experience anything without giving us the strength to do it. HE causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him.
The Assurance of God's Will
You are living in God's Will. If you want to have the strength that you do not give up and QUIT, you must be in God's Will. This does not mean going out and preaching. Just let your life do the talking. Your life should fully be entrusted in God.
Phillipians 1:12 - "..I want you to know, my dear brother and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped me spread the Good News."
Paul knew he was following God's plan and purpose for his life. He knew he was doing what God had called him to do. The way you react to situations can be a gospel to someone.
Phillipians 1:28 - "Don't be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ, but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it."
Paul was in the jail but he wasn't sitting there complaining and grumbling. But he rejoiced in the Lord ALWAYS. Even when people outside the jail criticised him. What great faith is that, huh? God always comes through. Has He never answered a prayer?
It may be that what you are going through is exactly what God is doing to you so that you can draw closer to Him. For Him to fellowship with you. When we do give up, we do it just before the BEST happens in our life. And you know what, when we quit, we give up on God. Whatever you're facing in life at the moment, no matter how discouraging or tough it is, and even with all the reasons for giving up, remember there is God. He will take you through whatever you're facing in life, no matter WHAT.
Jesus didn't give up and He didn't quit. He may have wanted to in the flesh, but his Spirit would not let him. God does not overlook our devotion, our loyalty or obedience.
Paul knew that what happens to us in life is not what determines our outcomes. We determine our outcome by having the right attitude despite what happens to us. For Paul, that means writing a letter of encouragement to the church in Phillipi despite being imprisoned in Rome. He chose to remain joyful. We may have a horrendous job (like me), but that does not mean life is over. No way. No one and nothing can take away our joy without our consent.
So, this is my letter of encouragement to you. Continue to pray, continue to walk in His Will, continue to praise Him, continue to trust Him, do not be tempted to give up, do not quit, do not walk away from whatever it is, your marriage, your job, your friendship, just hold on, no matter what. Do not be fearful, hopeless or rebellious. Be courageous. You make the choice of how you live through the difficult times.
Enjoy the month of February (the month of love) <3