After reading 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, I realized how much I’ve matured spiritually over the years. It says, ‘But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings..poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.’ There was a time when the old me would have believed that I had to go through everything Paul went through in order to be effective in ministry. The old me would have yielded to people, even well-meaning preachers, that said in order to be used mightily of God, you have to go through hell. But after years of going through hellish conditions like domestic violence, chronic homelessness, and being a violent crime survivor, I now realize those things weren’t the will of God for my life. I now know that I didn’t have to empty my accounts and send my rent money to the Lord, just to prove I have nothing but possess all things. But so many times, this is what immature or babes in Christ do, trying to impress others, and God.
It Doesn't Have to be Hard Times All the Time
When I seriously considered the fact that I’ve lived below the national poverty level for longer than I’d like to share, I realized that if God really wanted me poor, then the same had to be true for every minister of the gospel. But the fact of the matter is that the men and women of God are doing quite well which means so should I, and for that matter, so should you.
‘…though [Jesus] was rich…for [our] sakes He became poor, that [we] through His poverty might become rich.’ 2 Corinthians 8:9
You see, I finally realized that I didn’t have to go through hell or fail miserably at everything I did, just to be used of God or to be successful. Paul experienced all of those things because JESUS TOLD HIM HE WOULD. In Acts 9:15, 16, ‘…the Lord said, ‘…for I will show HIM how many things HE must suffer for My name’s sake.” Paul had to be in need, in distress, beaten, and imprisoned. He had to be, ‘…stoned…shipwrecked; [spend] a night and a day…in the deep.’ God gave him the grace to be, ‘…in journeys often, in perils of waters...of robbers...in perils of [his] own countrymen...of the Gentiles...in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.’ Those were things Jesus said HE had to suffer, not us. Not saying that we aren’t supposed to go through anything, because we will. But to believe that we have to go through hard times all the time just isn't true.
In, Headed, or Coming out of a Storm
Unfortunately, I used to believe that was true, only because I was always facing hardships. I remember as a little girl going to church and hearing the preacher say, ‘Either you’re in a storm, headed to a storm, or coming out of a storm.’ I latched on to that saying for most of my adult life and as a result, I was always in one. But that is not God’s will for our lives…all the time. Now that I’ve matured to the point that I study the Word for myself, I know that all the mess I’ve experienced isn’t Gods will for me, and neither is it His will for you. Some of those things you’ve experienced were the result of what you were told. But God is good. Real, real, real good and because He is, we can live good lives. It’s time for you to study the Word for yourself so that you'll mature to the point that when an unnecessary storms do approach, you’ll sleep through them like Jesus did in Mark 5.
Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for not taking the time to study and find out what Your Word says about my situation. Please forgive me when I gave in to hardship and allowed the harsh realities to harden my heart. Lord, teach me how to get in Your Word and extract all that I need to mature spiritually. Help me to develop and grow to the point where my spirit is too big for the mess I’m in. In Jesus’ name.