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Truly, Thank You, Affliction

If I could be healed of Bipolar would I want to be?
No, not if it meant I would stop clinging to God.

If I could go back in time and erase the sexual abuse and poverty I suffered, would I?
No, not if it meant my heart wasn’t burdened for all walks of life.
No, not if it meant I couldn’t comfort or relate to those who have suffered the same.

If I could erase my 30 years of suffering from eating disorders, would I?
No, not if it meant I was blinded by vanity and unusable because of my pride.
(No eating disorder for about 3-4 years, praise the Lord!)

My trials of affliction, starting at least at the age of 4, led to my salvation, my ministry,
and even my survival because they all led me to my dependence on God.

After writing the above sentences, I had to pause for about 10 minutes and God had to have a heart to heart with me.
I had just written “would I erase my sexual abuse” and then answered “no.”

Whew.  Heavy stuff.
God stopped me from writing further because He wanted me to evaluate if I really believed that sentence
or was I just writing words I should believe.

Let’s get real here.  My experience being abused has devastated me.  I am still healing from it.
I bring it before God often and say, “Lord, I don’t know how to fix these broken pieces, please help me.”

Sexual abuse changed my life forever.  I became a different person because of it.
So that makes me ask, “Who am I?  What is the result of this trauma?”

Well, based on feedback from the people I have reached in my ministry,
I am a person that God uses to comfort others and to point them back to Him.
So, I can continue writing to you with the following understanding of my heart.
This particular trial is so painful, that I really do wish it didn’t happen,
but would I be willing to forfeit what I gained from the trial to have the trial erased?
No, I would not.

Affliction has great value.
It is priceless, as there
may be no greater teacher.

Because of a lifetime of affliction, I can finally call God my best Friend.
I can finally say that God is enough for me.
It doesn’t matter what I lack or if I’m lonely.  God is enough.

Most of my Christian life I was sold out, faithful, teachable and surrendered, but I did not KNOW God.
yearned to know Him deeply.  I felt I would never have a daily walk in His word or a daily habit of prayer.

I believe I would still be saying that if God hadn’t allowed Bipolar to grip my life.

I am grateful for this ongoing mental illness.
Because of my daily, desperate need for Him I now finally share a relationship with Him.

I would not trade this trial

Like many of you, not only have I had a life of affliction, but I have had a life of sin.
If I told you about who I once was, you would be shocked.
But God has used my past to make me who I am.

God loves to make sin-stained lives and hearts into clean vessels with purpose.
I would not have a heart for broken, sinful people with lives full of shame and scars
if I hadn’t once been there myself.

I believe every trial God allows can be transformed to have purpose when
it is put in the hand of the ultimate Healer, Counselor, and Physician.

Only God knows how to weave our broken story
into something for His glory, something with
eternal purpose, something for good.

So, my Friend, are you afflicted?
Are you experiencing a trial?
Are you hurting from past wounds?
Are you living with scars from the past?

God has what you need.

Read over these promises, and purpose to not let them become cliché.
God is speaking to you.
He is giving you the resource of Himself to get you through your trial.

Surely He hath born our griefs,
and carried our sorrows.
Isaiah 53:4a

He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to preach deliverance to the captives,
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:18

My grace is sufficient for thee: for
my strength is made perfect in weakness.
II Corinthians 12:9a

Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you.
I Peter 5:7

God’s Word proves there is purpose to your suffering.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted:
that I might learn thy statutes.
Ephesians 4:31

Behold, I have refined thee,
but not with silver:
I have chosen the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 48:10

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
II Corinthians 12:9b

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort them
which are in any trouble, by the
comfort wherewith we ourselves are
comforted by God.
II Corinthians 1:4

Really grasp onto that last verse there.
1) He comforts you
2) So we can comfort others
3) With the very same comfort we received from God!

One preacher wisely said that our trials make us “uniquely qualified” to help others.

For example, all Christians can use God’s Word to comfort others,
but having a shared experience with someone
gives one a perspective that not everyone has.

I have never lost a child or spouse, but maybe you have.
I have not lost a loved one to suicide, but maybe you have.
I have never fought in a war, but maybe you have.
I have never been a victim of violence, but maybe you have.
I was not raised by alcoholic parents, but maybe you were.
I have never had a drug addiction, but maybe you have.
I have never been homeless, but maybe you have.

People need your experience.
People yearn for proof and examples that God really is enough for their exact trial.
When we choose to keep living abundantly regardless of hardships and afflictions,
we are giving others hope that scripture really is true, that God really is enough.

I am so encouraged when I hear of trials that folks have endured but yet they trusted God anyway.

Their examples give me hope.

There is one particular testimony that God has used in my life to teach me, encourage me, and literally change my life.
Over 10 years ago, I received an audio version of Darlene Diebler Rose telling her testimony.
I have listened to it countless times…maybe 50?  Could even be 100.
She was around 20 years old, newly married and newly on the mission field of Papua New Guinea when WWII broke out.

To summarize her trial in a nutshell, she became a Japanese prisoner of war for the entire war,
lost her husband, was abused, starved, literally broken by hard physical labor, tortured by the secret police,
put on death row, AND YET Darlene had the sweetest trust, dependence, faith, love and devotion for the Lord before, during and after the trial.

I would listen to her speak and I would call out,
“Lord, I want to know you like that.”

Friend, now I do!
But how did I come to know God like Darlene?  Through affliction!

But not just by being afflicted, but choosing to depend on and cling to God during my affliction.
By not letting bitterness ruin my faith.
By believing that God loved me and was FOR me and and would never try to hurt me.
By believing that I can trust Him.
By believing He is who He says He is in scripture.

I am overjoyed at this moment.  God has been and continues to be so good to me.

Here is the best news.  He is no respecter of persons.  The God that is available to me is available to you.
The choices I made to thrive despite trials are choices you can make.

Joy is not limited by circumstances or scars from the past.
Trials are precious when you see what God can do through them.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,
if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith,
being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and
honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
I Peter 1:6-7

I encourage you to check out two things that I made as a result of my trials.

1) Listen to a song I wrote called Rise Above.
It talks about your value in Christ and His love for you regardless of trials or scars from that past.
This song encourages you to let God use your life, scars and all!
To listen click here.

2) If you are struggling to get through a current or past trial without bitterness,
or if you want to know more about your responsibility as a Christian when it comes to a trial,
I would encourage you to get my free devotional. It will help you I promise.
Rather, it will help you if you let God speak to you.
To get this devotional click here.

Lastly Friend, there is hope and joy and mending and purpose when you let God be a part of your story.
That includes mountains and valleys.

Jesus says to you…

I am come that they (you) might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10b