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Enduring Trials

Trials don't discriminate. No amount of money can keep you from them or lessen the effects of them. For some reason we have bought into the idea that more money equals less problems. However, those who have acquired wealth will tell you that more money brings about a different set of issues...

Trials don't discriminate. No amount of money can keep you from them or lessen the effects of them. For some reason we have bought into the idea that more money equals less problems. However, those who have acquired wealth will tell you that more money brings about a different set of issues. No matter your social economical status trials and death are the leveling field for us all. With that being said, as we go through trials we're all pressed for understanding their purpose, "why is this happening to me?" "When will it end?" "Where is God?" What I hope to shed light on today is the purpose of trials, our response, and how we are to move forward.

We live in fallen society, not fallen in the since of rampant crime that we see on the news, or corruption of government or leaders, or even the corruption of we see take place in some congregations. These are just symptoms of mans fallen nature. To understand mans fallen nature we have go back to the beginning; the Genesis account of God creating, giving boundaries, and man going outside of those boundaries. In the beginning, according to Genesis, God created every living thing including man and He called it "good" (Genesis 1:31). Then God, creator of all (Genesis 1:1) told His creation what their role was in what He created. He told them what they had freedom to do eat, what not to eat, and the ensuing consequences if they failed to do as commanded (Genesis 2:15-17).

The woman that God created for man (Genesis 2:20-25) disobeyed that command when she proceed to eat from the tree of knowledge. In fairness, God told Adam this command and it was responsibility to communicate this command to his wife, Eve. Nevertheless, after she eating of the forbidden tree she convinced her husband to do the same, the husband who God told "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'' -Genesis 2:17 What God had warned them about had come to pass; they had knowledge of good and evil. However, as we see throughout history man choses evil every time, because our heart like that of Eve, desires to be the God of our lives instead of falling into submission to it's creator. Although sin is a reality we all have to deal with, God uses the evil of this world to bring about His Glory.

In the book of Job, more specifically Job1:8, God describes Job to Satan as "a blameless and upright man". However, Satan believed that Job feared the Lord due to God blessing all the works of his hands (Job 1:10&11). God then responded to Satan with this in Job 1:12, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” What I mostly want to highlight with this example is 1. God is in control and nothing flies under His radar 2. God uses the evil of this world to produce genuineness of faith, patience, and reliance on Him as well as Him being glorified as you lean on Him to walk with you through it.

The purpose of trials are to produce genuineness of faith (1Peter 1:6-7), to produce patience (James 1:2-4), and to expose our weakness and desperate need for Jesus to carry us through (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). We don't experience trials due to something we did. We don't experience trials because God was sleep on the job. We don't experience trials because we failed to pay our tithe. Unfortunately, I have heard all of this being preached from the pulpit as the reason why someone maybe going through hardship. Sadly, most churches, view trials like Jobs friends viewed them, which was, trials are a result of something thing that you did that resulted in God punishing you. This view portrays salvation as a work based salvation and belittles Gods providence.

How can we know if our faith is genuine if it's never tested. It's easy to say I trust God when everything is going well in life. Furthermore, there is also a sort of arrogance that can creep in if you're not careful. You see, when all is going well with life and we see others struggling we tend to think of other as not working hard enough, not being consistent enough, or not taking it serious enough. Although those in this space give God honor with their lips for how He's blessed them, the act of looking at another person as though they're not blessed in the same way points back to us being the source our blessing or that we somehow earned our blessing by our good works. Nevertheless, when all that is stripped away, when the money starts looking funny, when your health starts to fail you, when you're in a season where it seems like every week someone close to you is passing away, when the road to parenthood doesn't go as planned; what is really in your heart will be revealed.

At the intersection of pain and faith is transparency and authenticity. Whenever we go through trials our heart and our desires are quickly revealed. I personally have known people who were, at least to me, very deep in their faith only to come to a hard road in life, become angry with God, and return back to their filth and live a life contrary to the hope they once professed. I know what that fork-in-the-road feels like.

In January 2020, after 8 years of trying to conceive, my husband and I were told we will never have children outside of IVF. This was devastating. Prior to this event my husband was just let go of an Assistant Pastor role at a congregation we served for almost 4 years. He wasn't let go due to any moral failings, their reason was personality differences and for financial reasons. It was really disheartening the way things came to an end and how it was carried out. Shortly after being let go of the church my husbands Grandmother passed Dec. 2019. After returning to our home in Ohio after the funeral we had an appointment with an IVF specialist to possibly get answers as to why weren't getting pregnant. After our third appointment we received the news that we never would.

This was so heartbreaking. I liken it to feeling to feeling as though I was in the middle of the ocean trying to stay afloat. Most people in my family were either teen moms or moms that got pregnant without much effort so I receive no comfort from them. Most of my family members, like most who haven't experience infertility were ignorant to the journey and spoke from that place.

During my journey through infertility I was felt overwhelmingly depressed, hopeless, forgotten; alone. My husband and I really lost ourselves, now I realize that was the whole point; we needed to lose ourselves to find ourselves in Christ. We had to let go of the life we saw, the life we thought we deserved because we were "good" people and embrace the life God had/has for us. That was not easy...I remember nights where I was so angry with God, running down my list of how faithful I had been to ministry, as a wife, as a person as if what your should be doing anyway was deserving of a was hard, but then again I am hard headed. So then what should our response be towards trials? How do we avoid becoming bitter and angry? How can we have peace in the middle of the storm? Here are 3 key concepts that I believe will help:

1.) Be honest about where you're at mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

2.) Remember "that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." -Philippines 1:6

3.) Remember trials are there to help us grow. As hard as it may be to rejoice while experiencing trials, a perspective shift may be, this, God is ready to grow something in me and ready reveal to me more of Himself as you lean into get me through.

4.) Also this, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Being on the other side of ministry, you see things from such a different angle. Some people expect your life to be easier, void of the woe's for life because you're in leadership. I remember when I started becoming more vocal about wanting children in our women's group and asked for prayer in that area, an older member pulled me to the side afterwards and told me I shouldn't be talking about those kind of things because my husband is a Pastor. During our time there, I tucked away so much of myself and struggles trying to become what I thought everyone wanted me to be and was still rejected. However, it did make me want to be very transparent and authentic moving forward.

People love looking religious and deep. I've seen so many people on this infertility journey who go into it with all of their faith talk and positivity and if the first go round fails they have a hard time admitting anger, disappointment, sadness. They say stuff like, "I'm not going to let that in", but behind closed doors they do anyway, or "God didn't let it happen because I should've fasted and prayed before"; some believers have a hard time with dealing with what's real and allowing themselves to be weak to be strengthen by God. However, when this goes on undealt with it can lead to bitterness, anger, and the some turn away saying, "that God stuff don't work", when really what most people think should happen, because we like to think of God like man, that is we do "good" things and believe that warrants God blessing us with whatever we want. However, when God doesn't some people throw in the towel to return back to a life of sin, because "what's the point" failing to see that with-in-and-of-itself shows the true nature of their heart and their true intentions of follow God.

My journey and dealing with overly fake religious folks has taught me to deal with what's real, be honest about my emotions, and to not be afraid to feel my feelings. I don't know why a lot of older believers feel as though to be a Christian you have to go around smiling like everything is perfect. That's not reality. Reality is sometimes trials suck. It's not all pretty. Sometimes it gets real ghetto in life. Sometimes praying looks ratchet and all over the place emotionally. However, from my experience when you deal with what's real, lean into God during difficult times bearing your heart, when you allow yourself to be unapologetically broken God will do exceeding beyond anything you could ever imagine.


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