March 31, 2014
Trials Come So That...
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV, emphasis added)
[Editor's Note: Today's devotional might serve as a trigger for some. If that's you, we pray this story encourages you and brings you hope. Please see our note at the end for additional resources.]
Screams from my living room startled me. Walking into the room, I realized the noises came from the television. On the screen, a man viciously attacked a woman. My instinct normally would have been to grab the remote and change the channel. Instead I stood frozen, my eyes locked onto the scene.
It took me back 26 years to my little college apartment. To the terrifying moment I found an armed, masked man hiding at the top of my stairs. Without warning, I returned to the feelings and fear I felt that day.
Something was drawing me back to that moment reminding me of where I once had been and how far I had come.
Watching the violation on the screen was like watching myself all those years ago.
My mind snapped back to the present reality of the TV show, where the screen now showed the victim returning home to find a crime scene.
Another flashback. I, too, had arrived home to find investigators everywhere, dusting for prints, bagging and tagging items, and methodically removing my personal belongings one by one. First, physical, replaceable things ... my bathing suit, sheets, comforter, and towel. And then, personal, seemingly irreplaceable things ... my dignity, security, value and self-worth.
Following the day I was attacked, fear locked me in a prison and held me captive for nearly 15 years.
But thankfully that day watching that TV show, fear NEVER took hold!
In the past when those emotions rushed through me, terror came and I ran wherever I could to avoid being alone with the paralyzing fear. But not that day. After turning the TV off, I boldly and confidently marched up my stairs, jumped in the shower and scrubbed off every one of those emotions.
Afterward, the Lord impressed these words on my heart: Remember My promise. You have persevered, My child. Perseverance is finishing its work!
God was speaking His own Word to me from today's key verse, James 1:2-4. Sometimes, God allows trials to test our faith. Our trials, though incredibly confusing and painful, initiate a process that teaches perseverance which deepens and matures our faith in a way nothing else can.
My life is proof. Not only has God healed me from that horrific day many years ago, but He has turned it into a powerful testimony to bring hope to others and point them to Him.
If you're in the midst of a trial, be encouraged, sweet friend. Our key verse teaches that God promises to mature and complete you through it. He also promises that you will be more than a conqueror through Christ who loves you. Pay attention to those words. Not a mere conqueror...but more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
As God washed these truths over me, He spoke this message into my heart:
Not only can this trial not separate you from Me, Wendy, but with Me ... if you continue to look to Me and trust Me ... I will use it to mold you into the woman I created you to be. Wendy, you will be more than a conqueror so that I can mature you and use you to encourage and help others.
Before you read further, reread the paragraph above and replace my name with yours. Let God's promises seep deep into your heart. Your trial has purpose. It forces dependence on God. It tests you. It molds you, eventually creating you into an overcomer, with a powerful testimony.
Trials come so that God can work in and through them to transform us and then use us to bring hope and healing to His hurting people.
Heavenly Father, thank You for having a purpose in my trials. Open my eyes to see Your hand at work and give me the courage to persevere so that You can mold me into the woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Living "so that" is the theme of Wendy Blight's new book, Living So That: Making Faith-filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life. Click here to order Living So That.
Stop by Wendy's blog for your chance to win an autographed copy of Living So That. You can also sign up for her free companion devotional, Five Days to a Faith-Full Life.
If today's post served as any kind of a trigger for you due to something in your past, you're not alone. Research tells us sexual abuse and violence may affect as many as 1 in 3 women. Wendy has written a book about her triumph overcoming sexual assault through the power of God's word. Click here to order Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.
Reflect and Respond:
Are you facing a trial in your own life? What has been your response?
Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)
© 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 31 March 2014.