“Fires are lit in our lives through our suffering and they can burn to shine light or cause destruction; we get to decide which purpose they will serve.”
I’ve never heard God’s booming voice. I can imagine and day dream about what it sounds like, but honestly the thought of literally hearing him speak terrifies me. Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t literally heard him though, and I wonder if I’m just not listening the “right” way. Then I have to remind myself: God speaks to us in hundreds of ways that we don’t even realize. Just because we don’t literally hear his voice doesn’t mean that he isn’t there, speaking to us, nudging us forward, tugging on our heart strings, encouraging, teaching, and guiding us.
God is there. God is here. God is everywhere (Dr. Seuss, I want that copyrighted under my name, okay?) Despite all the messiness of life and the struggles of recent weeks and months, I’ve been pretty stinking blessed. When I stop and really look around, really open up my mind and crack open the door of my heart even just a teeny tiny bit – I can see, feel, and hear God everywhere around me.
There are 3 things which have presented themselves time and time…and time and time and time and time…again over the past few weeks. I have been struggling so much with identity – who I am, what I’m meant to do, feelings of never being good enough, never measuring up, fear of failure, fear of mediocrity, and on and on. I have struggled with the frustrations of not knowing or understanding how God is using me or plans to use my life to further his kingdom. I have asked myself over and over again, “Am I even doing the right thing?” I have been living with the fear that this is all for nothing or that maybe I misunderstood God’s plan and call for me.
A mid-life crisis at the young age of almost 23.
“Who am I?
What is my purpose?
Where do I fit in?
What am I doing with my life?
Where do I go next?
What will my future be?
Am I doing life wrong?
Why am I here?
Why do I feel so useless and helpless?”
—type of crisis.
I spend time with God every morning. It’s what keeps me grounded and reminds me what REALLY matters most in life. I read a variety of devotionals and try to absorb the stories and knowledge presented by both the authors of these devotionals and the bible verses that are used to accompany them. Over the course of the past month there have been 3 common themes which have been present over a wide array of different devotionals by different authors and different themes…it’s been strange to be to see these 3 things pop up again and again and finally I have come to terms with the fact that God is using these things to speak to me. He is laying out in front of me (or what’s probably more accurate – whacking me repeatedly over the head with) these things in order to better equip me for this scary, unforeseen, unknown future that I am so unsure about.
We all have temptations in our lives which cause sin, pain, and are unhealthy. My personal temptations happen to literally be deadly and life threatening. In times like these where I feel so unsure about who I am and what I’m doing, these temptations rear their ugly heads and come sneaking into the battleground of life: they attempt to consume my mind and my heart.
I’m better than I used to be – more equipped with shields of armor and battle weapons, but I’d be lying if I said that I’ve successfully won every battle I’ve been presented with. I have lost. Many battles. Temptations are sneaky things and they are one of Satan’s greatest tools to drag us away from Christ.
The good news is that, despite temptations, God always allows us a choice. Jesus was tempted by the devil and he was able to withstand those pulls towards sin that he felt as he was a human man. Jesus knows what Satan tempts us with and he has felt the longing of all those same temptations. Whether we know it or not, we are fully equipped to withstand the temptations thrown our way. We are always presented with a choice. It may not always be clear – in fact, the more we give in to temptations presented before us, the more foggy and unclear the right choice becomes. But there is always a choice. We can choose to follow our temptations or we can choose to follow Jesus. We won’t always make the right choices. But the good news is that God will always welcome us back with open arms and offer healing and forgiveness and grace.
In the midst of all these choices we are faced with in regards to temptations and daily living, we must endure the waiting. As much as I hate to admit this, I truly believe that our scars point to a greater story. I believe that Jesus wants us to walk through our suffering leaning on and relying on him so that he can turn our broken hearts, broken lives, and open wounds into mended scars. God loves us – no doubt about that. He loves and accepts us as we are and for who we are – but the truth is that he loves us SO much that he REFUSES to leave us as we are – broken and wounded. While we are waiting for God to develop our hearts and our strengths we will endure temptations and we will be faced with painful choices. Satan rushes in at the slightest sign of weakness and tries to upend us with temptations which he knows we struggle with. But God provides a way out if we take the time to see and hear it. God presents us with choices. These choices (even when we make the wrong ones – actually, especially when we make the wrong ones) help us develop, learn, and grow during our waiting period. These trials and tribulations that we are facing are God’s way of mending and molding us.
God is refining us through our suffering. I believe that our God-given dreams are not at all about us but rather that they are about what God desires to accomplish in and through our lives for the glory of his kingdom. The waiting period is one of confusion, pain, temptations, etc. But God is offering us choices and guiding us along the path of righteousness.
I believe that God is lighting a fire in each and every person’s life. We all suffer. Not one person on this earth goes their entire life without feeling immense pain and suffering. But God will use that to develop our strengths and refine our hearts if we allow him too. We have a choice when faced with temptations during our waiting and refining period – we can choose to shine the light of our suffering and help to heal the world or we can choose to hide from our suffering and let Satan cause destruction in our hearts and minds.
The battle is fierce. The pain is real. The temptations are there. The choice is ours. What path will we choose during our waiting?
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant
“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.”
― Glennon Doyle Melton
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
-2 Corinthians 4:8-9