No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV (1984)
In two and a half weeks I will have the remarkable privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with hundreds of women at the new “Women of Purpose” conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. It astounds me to think of the plan God has chosen for my life. One particular verse comes to mind as I consider my story. Romans 4:17 celebrates “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”
Recently, Karen Hickam, the founder of Strive for Greatness who is hosting the conference, challenged each of the speakers participating in the event to consider the raw, painful moments of their journey. I prayerfully asked the Lord to take me back to some of my own struggles and allow me to feel them again. I asked Him to help me describe them in a way that others might feel them too and relate to my experience. Here’s where the Lord led me.
- I sat under the shelter of my covered porch watching the rain wash over the earth around me and wondered briefly if God had opened the skies to match my tears. Thunder shook the sky, literally rattling the chair beneath me. I felt each crack shudder through me, every pounding blow echoing the ache in my own fragile heart. Doesn’t obedience bring protection and blessing, Lord? Could I have been wrong about Your will for me?
- I swallowed hard, attempting to quiet the churning in my stomach by sheer will. It would be easier if I could just retch. Maybe then, it would at least be over. But it wasn’t over. It hadn’t been for . . . How many days, Lord? When will it end? . . . I can’t do this anymore . . . I’m not strong enough . . . forgive me . . .
- Reeling from the sting of betrayal, I sobbed until my face hurt. Darkness hovered about me, undaunted by the break of day. Life had turned upside down. Everything would be different now, the comforting familiarity of my routine stripped away from me by one who claimed to love me. How could this happen, Lord? Of all people to do this to me . . . how could it be her?
Tears flowed freely as my fingers moved across the keyboard, the vivid memory of my darkness flooding back in poignant waves. This time, however, my tears did not find their source in anguish. They fell in worship of the One in whom I overcame.
My story isn’t marked by perfection, success and glory. Far more consistently, my story revolves around the breaking of my heart. But you see, my heart was bound in chains that needed breaking, and Jesus loved me enough to allow the pain so He could set me free.
Dear one, in your moments of greatest darkness, Jesus has not abandoned you. He is there with you, holding you, even when you can’t feel Him. Very often, what keeps you from recognizing His presence in your difficulty is the very chain in you He seeks to break.
In those moments of weakness, temptation comes. The enemy hisses in your ear that Jesus doesn’t love you . . . that He doesn’t even exist. He will do everything He can to convince you to turn back and abandon God’s plan for you. After all, just look at you; God has obviously already abandoned you.
His lies, dear one, come at you in those moments with such ferocity out of his own desperate fear. The enemy knows what lies on the other side of your victory: your freedom. As you press on, take hold of Jesus by faith, and allow Him to show you your way out (1 Cor 10:13), the enemy’s grip on your heart is broken. The oppressive chain that once bound you to him—your fear, your pride, your need for significance—falls idly to the earth with a thud. And you, dear one, will discover with elation that you are free—free to experience the all-surpassing joy of Christ’s fullness dwelling within you unfettered by the enemy’s chains. “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5).
When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.