"And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” ~Phillippians 1:12-14 (NLT)
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” ~Philippians 1:29(NIV)
Suffering. It’s not something we look at as being a positive experience. Most people do not look at suffering as a privilege. I know I sure don’t…well, let me rephrase that, I didn’t used to. This morning, I am reflecting back to the beginning of 2010. 2010 was a big year for me. It was the year I truly started to grow in Christ and I faced some of the most challenging times in my marriage. However, when I started writing in my journal, I had no idea what I was going to face. I came across an entry that was written on January 2nd 2010 and just kind of shook my head. Have you ever done that? Stumble over something you read years ago and wonder?
As I read over my journal entry for the beginning of 2010, I read about my reflection of the previous year and how hard it was. Without going into great detail, let me just say that there was a lot of suffering and trials in our lives. I had lost a job, we lost our house and our car and our lives had totally been turned upside down. I remember being so alone, but I wasn’t. I had written:
“I begged and pleaded with God to get me through things, and with His strength, I survived. I'm not saying it was easy in any sense of the word, but my family and I survived and are still surrounded with the love from friends and family that many people only dream about." ~Darci Escandon
2010 was the beginning of my decision to set aside God time every morning. I was bound and determined to spend 30 minutes a day, just me and God. I wanted to be still and just be in His presence. I remember wanting to go out and buy a journal, new pens, highlighters and a few different Bible studies… but I remembered what God was asking me… He wanted me to:
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." ~Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
I realized that I didn’t need to go out and spend all that money… I didn’t really need the thoughts and words from a bible study series based on what I think God is trying to say to me...What I need to do is just sit in his presence and let His word guide me to what He wanted me to learn. I need to open my heart, sit down and listen. Let God's words flow through me, into my heart and mind... and that is what I did.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” ~1 John 2:15 (NIV)
In doing that, I recognized that I was restless...I wasn’t at peace.. I wasn’t at a peaceful place in my because I didn't uphold my commitment to God... I was just starting my serious walk with the Lord but still had one foot in the world. I wanted my relationship with God, but I also found myself wanting to please the people that I had in my life as well as not loose what I thought I needed. In doing that, I made a lot of enemies. I realized that I was serving two masters. I was trying to serve Man and God. It was like mixing water with oil. As I started working on my relationship with God, I realized that I had developed a conscious in the Holy Spirit who indwells in each and every one of us.
Things that used to be “no big deal” became a “bid deal”. Things that would blow off because I didn’t want to deal with them, became so big that I had no choice but to face them and deal with them. And, most importantly, I realized that the things I had started to loose, were things of this world. I started to recognize that I had friends who were really not friends. That was ok. Because now, I know, that I allow God to bring people into my life, rather than go out and find those that I think I should be with.
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” ~Matthew 10:22 (NIV)
My salvation is worth more to me than anything else in this world. My relationship with God is number one in my life. What does all of this have to do with the suffering that I wrote about at the beginning? It was through my suffering that I was drawn to God. It was through my suffering and my heartache at the loss of so many things in my life that I got to know God on an intimate level and it was through that suffering that I was able to see my life as God saw it. It was because of suffering that I was able to dedicate and surrender each and every part of my life to God.
God never promised me a life full of roses and butterflies. God told me that life will be hard. That I will suffer and that bad things will happen. That’s life. God also promised me that He would be faithful. He promised me that I would never be alone and He promised me that He would be active and alive in my life and give me the strength I need to face any situation head on! His Word is alive and speaks into my life. All that I need, I can get from Him.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
As I look at what is left of 2011, I am full of praise and Thanksgiving for Him. I am reminded of His faithfulness in the past and look forward to the future and to the wonderful things He will reveal to me. I look forward to growing through suffering and the peace that having Him active and in my life brings.
Thank you Lord, that you work in me. Thank you Lord for the relationship You have with me. Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness and for Your mercy and grace!! Amen.
© 2011 Giving Thanks Daily, Darci Escandon