What is the initial evidence that you are filled with the Holy Spirit and called for ministry? Trouble – if your personal and spiritual lives seem like a vicious cycle of getting caught in a storm and weathering the storm, remember that you have a calling and that God has anointed you. An apostle is spotted when he is the one who is still standing when everyone around has fallen down from pressure, discouragement, hopelessness. If you are still standing, while a number of them have fallen down, God has a calling for you; He has designed a purpose solely for you to fulfil to glorify Him and His Kingdom. This is exactly what Paul said about spiritual warfare.
“Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.
The “evil day” indicates any moment of spiritual attack. As children of God, it is vital that we overcome and conquer this warfare. After having gone through turbulent and tough times, if you are still standing, it is solely because of the strength that God has imparted. But to stand firm, we must have 2 attributes: honesty and righteousness. Belonging to the human race, it is impossible for us to always be honest and righteous. God is the only one who can give us the grace to shatter our old selves to pieces and mould us into His likeness.
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen!”
God is the only one who can keep us from stumbling; He will give us the grace to overcome temptations and hopelessness. So that, owing to Him, we will stand blameless in His glorious presence – without blemish and accusation (Colossians 1:22). Besides, He will fill us with exceeding joy.
When God holds our hand, He will hold onto it. He will not let go, no matter what. Sometimes, the grip will be too tight or even forceful, causing pain and frustration. Often, we try to hold his hand, which causes us to loosen the grip and eventually, be all alone. Him holding onto us, even if it causes pain or frustration, is far better than us being all alone.
Why does God allow these storms in our life?
“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. You have given me relief when I was in distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
This verse is often misunderstood; it doesn’t mean that when you are in distress, God gives you relief the next moment. David was going through a dilemma (morally and spiritually), when he abruptly committed 2 sins: adultery and murder. But God sent a prophet to him and revealed his sins. Immediately, he was filled with guilt and misery, and he repented. Even then, he had to suffer the consequences and judgements for his actions. He had to run away from his own home, in fear of his own son, Absalom. Those who broke bread with him ran after him cursing and antagonising him. Having to flee for his life and suffer horrible indignities brought, enlargement was brought to David. Even when David was fleeing for his life, God was making him a work in progress; He brought an enlargement to his heart, so that God could testify about him that he is a “man after His own heart”. Pressure produces perseverance. For God to testify this about us, we cannot live a life with a silver spoon. Maybe this very day, we might be hiding, in fear of those around us. Even then, God is giving us His grace and holding our hands, so that we may stand firm. What we are going through right now must be consequences of our own actions; instead of using it against us, God is using it for us, so that He may bring an enlargement to our heart and call us “after His own heart”.
God has allowed us to go through failures, He has allowed us to walk through the valley of grief. Everyday, there is a spiritual attack against families and homes, especially Christians’. These manifest in a gazillion ways: impatience, ego, dishonesty, poor communication, taking each other for granted, and so on. While this is not happening without God’s knowledge, eventually, there is a greater purpose to be fulfilled. God is calling the church to repair families and homes, so that His children may be used for His glory. Often, we feel monotonous spiritually; we are unable to see His purpose, we even doubt if we have a calling. But at that very moment, God will use us to heal the wounds of others. God wants us to realise that we get wounded, so that we can heal the wounded. There is a reason and a plan for every single storm that God allows in your life, not so that you will be put to shame, rather, He will enlarge your heart, help you weather the storm and use you to heal others. When families are cracked, may it be separation or divorce, it is a disgrace. Watching all sorts of abuse and constant fighting takes a toll on children; even then, God uses these children in mighty ways.
How is this enlargement brought upon? We must acknowledge our failures and repent (renounce and turn from our sins). If we have forgiven those who have wronged us years back, it is a sign that He has enlarged our hearts. If not, we still have a long way to go.
“He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.”
Israelites were led through the desert without food and water, and with poisonous reptiles, all so that God could directly give them water and manna. None of us like tests and exams. But only when we give an exam, we can get graded. God humbles and tests us, so that in the end, He will uplift us in the way that He pleases. Although God humbled and tested Israelites, the outcome that He had planned was great. When Israelites opened their mouths to eat and to murmur against God, they failed miserably. Because of this, God punished them by forbidding to enter the promised land. Trials prove and humbles us.
“In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days.”
Often, when we ask God for strength, God asks us “do you really mean it?” If we are willing to be reduced to weakness (total dependence and submission to God), He will heal us. Nowadays, when we fall sick, we can afford to go to the hospital, consult a specialist and take medicines. But years ago, there were children of God who started their ministry with just faith as their asset. For every meal and to cure an ailment, men and women of God totally depended on God, not their bank balance and medical insurance. Although, a few of them went to be with The Lord, most of them survived severe ailments and had remarkable longevity. At the same time, we should consider every disease as a vehicle that may take us home. This urges us to acknowledge the importance of preparation – by repentance and faith.
2 Corinthians 12:19
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Are you ready to trust fully on God and endure sufferings? God has promised us that His grace is sufficient for us – His grace is sufficient for us to endure any suffering. If we are ready to withstand tests and trials that go with it, He will give us His strength and power. Do you just want your problems to be solved or do you want Him to perfect you?
2 Corinthians 12:5
“I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.”
Forget boasting about our weaknesses, how many of us have the courage to admit our weaknesses? Majority of us do not, because we see weakness as a sign of disgrace, we fear about what people would think of us and about the God we serve. When we pray with our arms outstretched, take a moment to wonder if our arms are pure and without blemish. First step is to acknowledge our weaknesses; it can be bottled up anger or unresolved hurt. If these weaknesses are overlooked, it can manifest in several ways and make our lives ugly. Then we must submit our worst bits, along with the good ones to God – our weaknesses.
Wives, honour your husbands – the head of your house; lift up their heads in front of others. It is your responsibility. The Bible refers to such wives as “capable, intelligent, and virtuous”. Husbands, love your wives just like how God loves His children – Agape (selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love). When we love someone without receiving anything in return, it pains and it hurts. But we are here because God loved us selflessly, sacrificially, and unconditionally.