We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion.
(2 Corinthians 6:5, NIV)
Friend to Friend
I have never been beaten, put in jail, or faced angry mobs because of my faith. That kind of faith is foreign to me. But I came face to face with such radical faith in Mexico where it is a common occurrence for Christians to be imprisoned, persecuted, and even killed because of their faith.
My husband and I were invited to teach a conference for pastors and their wives in Chiapas, Mexico. On the first day of the conference, we met a young pastor who was so excited because many men from his village were coming to the conference with him the next day. For months, he had prayed and encouraged these fellow pastors and their wives to attend the training conference. This precious servant was rejoicing that God had heard and answered his prayers.
When Dan and I arrived the next morning, the first person we saw was this man – kneeling in the dirt, weeping and crying out to God. We knelt beside him and wrapped our arms around him as he poured out his pain. One of his friends had been killed because of his plans to attend the conference.
We were stunned! To think that someone would die because they planned to attend a conference where Dan and I were speaking was ludicrous. As we feebly attempted to wrap our hearts and minds around what had happened, we tried to offer the weeping man words of comfort at the loss of his friend.
I will never forget what happened next.
This man of faith suddenly raised his tear-stained face to ours. “You don’t understand. I am not weeping because of my friend’s death. He gave his life – a sacrifice of obedient service and is today in Heaven with Jesus Christ. I am weeping because the others heard of his death and now refuse to come because they are too afraid. How can we reach the people of Mexico with such weak faith?”
I was undone. The spiritual bubble in which I had lived much of my life burst – and I saw. I saw real faith – tried and tested faith – standing before me. I was in awe of Manuel. I was humbled by his life, lived on the front lines of spiritual battle every single day.
And I wanted it. I wanted that kind of faith.
My faith has grown stronger over the years, but it did not come in ways that I expected. It came through installments carefully planned by my loving and faithful God.
A constant battle with depression
A bi-polar child
A husband with heart problems
The betrayal of trusted friends in ministry
Degenerative disc disease
Oh, I could go on. But the truth is that bad things really do happen to both godly and ungodly people. It sometimes seems unjust that unbelievers seem to prosper, sailing through life on tranquil waters of prosperity when those who faithfully serve God are battered and beaten by storms in life.
While it is a reality that life storms slam our faith against the shores of doubt and fear, it is just as true that storms offer strength and power to those who embrace the waves of pain and remain faithful in the fierce winds of turmoil.
Every crisis – every storm – is an opportunity to trust God. In fact, God calls us to a heavenly perspective of the tough times in life. He calls us to see them as He sees them – opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.
The question is, what are we going to do with our pain? Will we radically obey God – like Manuel? Or will we give in and give up?
Father, my faith is so weak. Please help me learn how to harness the power of my pain and use it for good – for power – for growth. Today, I choose to see the storms I am facing as opportunities to trust You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Where are you today on your faith journey? Stop and take inventory. What needs to go? What needs to be added in order to grow in faith this year? Choose one step to take today. God will honor your obedience and you will please Him.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help learning how to trust God? Mary’s book, 10-Day Trust Adventure, will help your faith grow and lead you to fully trust God. This book addresses many decisions you make in every area of your life – including your past and future, your family and friendships, your finances and work – and how to make those decisions as you step out in faith and trust God.