As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I feel like God is telling me that this year is going to be one of learning, growth, and yes, some struggling.
I think there is going to be a lot of struggling and maybe even suffering. It is something that I am not necessarily looking forward to, but there it is. That is part of what comes with being a Christian.
I know that the enemy doesn’t like it when we start focusing on God, and trying to grow closer to Him. I have already found myself under attack in a few different ways.
On Sunday our pastor talked about suffering and fears out of 1 Peter 3:13-17.
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give and answer to everyone who asks you do give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ my be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good that for doing evil.”
Our pastor talked about how, for the most part, we aren’t persecuted for our faith the way the Christians were that Peter was writing to. But the biggest thing that non-believers have a problem with, is why do good people suffer… why does God allow that?
Those are questions we can’t answer. We don’t have the answer, and maybe we never will. But we take each step, day by day, saying “yes” to God, and trusting Him.
It isn’t easy.
Because the verses say not to be frightened. That is difficult, because as we seek to follow God, we get hit with many fears. What will happen if….. ? What if….. ? God, I can’t handle it if….. you fill in the blanks.
This was a hard sermon for me.
I feel like God is calling me to go deeper with Him as He prepares me for something. I don’t know what that something might be. I have no clue. I just know I have the desire to share with others the miracle God has worked in my life and the freedom I have experienced.
One thing I do know. The enemy doesn’t want that news spread.
And he wants to gain me back as his captive.
He has been trying.
A lot of fear.
As I listened to the sermon I heard several things.
“If there is suffering in your life, it may not be because you are doing something wrong, but because you are doing something right.”
“Suffering sets us free from other God’s in our lives.”
“God is the most glorified in you when you are the most satisfied in Him in the midst of significant loss and pain.”
What if you have a huge fear… that you lose a family member, a child or a spouse. And then you find yourself in the midst of the very situation you fear. That fear becomes a reality. You can discover that in the midst of that heartache and pain, the devastation, that God is right there with you, walking with you, and He is sufficient. He is enough.
There were 2 questions that were asked at the end of the sermon.
1. What have you heard today from God?
My answer: “Has God asked me to release something so that I can enjoy Christ to a greater degree as Lord?”
2. In obedience to You as my Master I will….
My answer: “I will continue to follow deeper into You, even if I feel like I am losing some significant relationships in my life.”
My answers, especially to #2 were made with much fear and trembling. I felt like I was going to come unglued. I asked God to speak to me just before the sermon. Well, He did.
I managed to make it to the lobby of the church, and fell apart at I spoke out loud to Cindy a specific instance or two that I was afraid of. The fear of following God in spite of that stuff really was shaking me. I turned my back on the lobby as I started to cry… and fall apart. Cindy gave me a fierce hug with her free arm, and literally was almost holding me up as I collapsed sobbing onto her shoulder.
I was finally able to compose myself and get through the rest of church.
I got home, changed and went to the coffee shop.
Once there, I found a quiet, private corner, turned on some praise music. Then I proceeded to cry on and off all afternoon, begging God not to let my fears come to pass. Over and over, I heard:
“My child, I will be enough, even if it does come to pass. Do you trust me in that?”
“My daughter, some things may be stripped away. Will your heart still choose to bless my name?”
I came to the end of that day, with my head pounding, my eyes sore and puffy, exhausted.
But I came with a decision. One that I guess I had already made, but all the fears associated were now hitting me.
I have to follow God wherever He is leading. I need to say “yes” to Him. I need to get to know Him better. I need to spend more time in His word, talking to Him, listening to Him, sharing my life with Him. I need to become better armed to fight the enemy, and more able to hear his subtle lies.
I think I was under major spiritual attack on Sunday to be so overwhelmed by those fears. I am still concerned, but not as fearful as before. Remember, I am not to be frightened but in my heart set apart Christ as Lord. I need to fear God above anything else and then I will be able to keep all the other fears in their place.
I found myself under attack today. Not with fear, but with blatant, outright, horrible thoughts. Just thoughts that were so obviously planted by the enemy that I was able to immediately turn my back on them.
I talked with Cindy today, and she said that she experienced the same type of thing.
It isn’t just me. It is any of us who are determined to seek God, and make Him our all in all this year, and for all our lives, no matter what situations or sufferings or tribulations we may find ourselves in. We are all going to find that the enemy is going to try to attack us at any and every turn. He is going to attempt to get us to give up and give in. He is going to try to get us to believe lies about ourselves and about God.
So let us all follow Peter’s advice.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety [I would add in fear!!] on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:6-11