Can our trials give strength and courage to others?

It is so easy to look at our lives and think to ourselves, “I’m just a … ” and fill it in with whatever. A housewife, a mother, a homeschooler, etc. But the reality is that God doesn’t see us that way!

trials can be used to give courage

He sees us as:

  • redeemed
  • beautiful
  • loved
  • delightful
  • perfected
  • daughter of the King
  • gifted
  • precious

How can we, as ordinary women of flesh, reflect God’s view of us?

I’ve spent 39 years examining that very question. We see ourselves through the lens of the temporal world around us. God sees us through the lens of the blood of Jesus and eternal redemption. Now THAT’S a powerful lens and puts our puny sight to shame.

And then He does even more.

He promises to use our lives for His glory and for the eternal work of His Kingdom!

I’ve been reading in Philippians and was struck by 1:12-20. Let’s look at just a few of these and I want to tell you a story.

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known …  and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear … What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Think about this. Here is a man, who may look like a very ordinary man on the outside, is in prison yet KNOWING that his imprisonment is having a powerful impact for the Kingdom of God. And his imprisonment is giving courage to other believers. That is a fantastic thought (fantastic as in beyond belief).

But this is exactly what Paul tells us. He is seeing other believers sharing the gospel with greater boldness (and yes, some from a desire to show Paul up). But his delight is that Jesus is proclaimed and the gospel is going forth! Paul is allowing God to shape his life to reflect his new identity. And he is willing to be used for God’s glory as He sees fit.

An eternal look at trials.

I have a very dear friend who has struggled with a life-threatening illness for the past 6 or 7 years. There have been several times when she was at death’s door. Through this she has seen the dissolution of her marriage (through no fault of her own), several financial distress, medical complication upon complication, her children’s struggles to cope with their lives being turned upside-down and ever increasing pain and exhaustion.

Now, I know she is an ordinary woman on the outside. She struggles with pain and loss and grief and sorrow and anger. But those things do not define her. She doesn’t allow them to define her. She has turned her trials to a testimony of God’s faithfulness and love.

How in the world can these trials testify to God’s love, you ask?

Every step of the way she has seen His provision, protection and persistent care. She has watched as He has miraculously pulled her from the brink of death numerous times so she can continue to raise her children. And she has turned these trials into a testimony of faith to advance the Kingdom of God. He’s given her the gift of art to express His everlasting love. He’s given her words to speak of His abounding compassion. He’s given her eyes to see those needing to understand His eternal offer of redemption.

Like Paul, she has come to expect, whether in life or death, that Jesus would be exalted in her body.

Are we living to give strength and courage to others?

It is so hard for us to have an eternal mindset about our trials. We hurt, we ache, we worry, we try to figure it all out. What we should be doing is looking with our spiritual eyes and stepping into the mind of Christ that we’ve been given. How can we do this? What needs to change for us?

When we look at the greatest commandment and the second greatest, we see this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:37, 39

When our hearts are filled to the brim with love for God and love for others, it is much easier to stay Kingdom Minded. It is so much easier to look at everything in our lives in light of eternity. It is so much easier to realize that our words, our actions, our responses have an eternal impact on those around us – for good or for ill. If we are centered on loving God, we can be like Mary who said:

Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word. Luke 1:38

Lastly, when we are loving others, we realize that we are a testimony of God’s faithfulness to them. Do we speak in a way that honors and glorifies God? Do we allow impatience and fear rule our hearts and pour out into our speech and actions or do we let the peace of Christ rule our hearts and minds?

None of these things are easy. But the more we are solidly focused on our identity in Christ, the more we speak from the Spirit rather than our flesh.

My prayer for each one of us is that God will etch these truths deep on our hearts so that we may lives lives of glory to Him and power for the Kingdom.

 

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos from pixaby.com

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3 Comments

  1. A timely reminder that [my] light and momentary “afflictions” can serve a purpose . . . Expecting Christ to be exalted and in all things being given an opportunity to share, love and give is a cup of cool water.

    Thanks friend!

    bwsmith

    Reply
    • Amen to that, sister!!! Thanks for sharing that. ((hugs))

      Reply
  2. Wonderful encouragement, Kate! Thank you.

    Reply

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