STRENGTHENING YOUR CORE ◽ YOU
What has strengthened you spiritually more than anything in your life?
Was it a good sermon? Or do you usually forget the topic an hour after the last amen?
Was it a seminar or conference you attended where emotions ran high for a weekend?
Was it having all of your prayers answered and having plenty of money in the bank?
Was it a book you read with stirring stories that made you weep?
As I think about myself and my growth, none of the above would be the answer. I think sermons are awesome and stirring, conferences can provide lessons to learn, answered prayers bring happiness for a while, and books and their messages can move my emotions.
But what has strengthened me spiritually more than anything else?
Let me tell you three things:
Photo courtesy of Doug Gephardt
When we lost our home, which is a story I’ve relayed so often to friends, it was perhaps one of the most trying times, as I was embarrassed, disappointed, and felt like a failure. However, decades later that experience has provided me with empathy for those suffering financial struggles in a way I did not before – back when I was haughty and proud.
When I began to see that I was destroying my relationship with my husband by being sarcastic and demeaning in my conversation, and realized that God could really take care of him and I didn’t need to shake a constant finger in his face, my eyes were opened. I fell in love all over again and saw him in a whole new way. He’s quite handsome, by the way.
When I have experienced forgiveness over and over again for misspoken words, unkind deeds, a cold heart, or a judgmental attitude and felt the love of God erase my mistakes – it’s flooded my insides with warm healing, like a soaking bath that heals every sore muscle. He’s so good to me!
It’s the losses, the eye-opening experiences and the mistakes that have caused me growth. Yes, I had to know the word and the character of God (that he provides, heals and forgives) – so that’s a huge foundation. But growth, real strength, and something I can pass on to my children and grandchildren? Those things have been seeded, watered and sprouted by pain and suffering.
And yet…so many I’ve heard and known have suffered unbearable pain in this world that has nearly killed them.
I don’t believe pain is meant to kill us. In fact, God says he works ALL things together for GOOD. He also says to count it all joy when we fall into trials and temptations, knowing that patience is being weaved into our hearts and souls.
I don’t know where you are at the moment. Maybe your strength is completely used up, you’re as weak as you’ve ever been, and you’re seriously about to give up on life and people and peace. Find someone to talk to, listen to their stories of strength, lay down everything at his feet, and then just sit still.
Strength may come slowly as you wait, or it may come as a burst of energy, as He pours.
Either way, don’t look for your strength to endure through endless lessons, readings or social gatherings with others. Establish your foundation by knowing God’s character (He is LOVE) and when you’re at your very weakest point, expect those seeds to sprout and eventually emerge under the sun. And when you look down you’ll see that your roots grew exponentially as well, deep into good soil that will sustain you the rest of your life.
I’m not sure that in our human form we can grow strong and tall any other way, than through the portal of pain.