(The Faith Forum Series -Batch 2)
It is easy to look at others who we see God has blessed with something and to want what they have or something like it or to reach where they have reached or somewhere like it.
However, we hardly ever consider what they may have gone through, before God decided to change their season.
We don’t consider the pain they felt, the tears they shed, the times they were ostracized, felt lonely, dismissed, discounted and afraid, the days they went jobless, money-less and even hungry, the days they were attacked, lied on and abused, the real dangers they faced to life and limb, the oppression they had to endure at the hands of wicked and heartless people, the heartache, the prisons, the days of sterility and stagnancy, the days God chose to break them excruciatingly and for prolonged periods, so that he could rebuild them according to his divine dimensions, the days they felt overwhelmed and as if no earthly support or friend was in sight, the days they had cried so much, that there were no more tears left to shed, the days they had to make difficult decisions, walk away from things, make enormous sacrifices and choose to STAND with Christ, when to do so would have meant to suffer loss, ridicule, criticism and harassment, at the hands of those who did not understand what they were going through or sympathize with their fight.
In short, we look at where God has chosen to PROMOTE some of his children and we want the same PRODUCT. We want to get to the same PLACE but we don’t want the PROCESS.
Everybody wants to end up in the PALACE, like Joseph did but are they prepared to go through what he went through in the PIT and in the PRISON?
Everybody wants to reign like king David but are they prepared to be chased first by their enemies and to cry out to the Lord while on the run, exhausted and in caves?
Everybody wants to experience God’s RESURRECTION POWER like Jesus was raised from the dead but are they ready to go through what Jesus went through? He was beaten, mocked, scorned, ridiculed, spit on and then crucified, before God the Father raised him up from the dead and highly exalted him, above all principality, power and dominion.
The CROSS must come before the CROWN. Are you prepared to carry it?
The PROCESSING must come before any PROMOTION. Are you prepared to go through it?
Truth be told: TEARS may need to precede your TRIUMPH. Are you open to being broken, if God sees it necessary and in very painful and humiliating ways?
Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Philippians 2:5-11 demonstrates beautifully, the ‘cross before crown’ way of living. It reads:
- “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The road to failure is a road of desperation and faithlessness. It always requires you, when faced with difficult choices, to take the easy way out.
The road to success on the other hand, will require you to make difficult choices, to go down uncertain and risky paths and to even do so alone, in those moments when even those closest to you, do not support you.
Throughout life, the question will be posed over and over again to every professor of Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ himself: “Will you take the easy way out in this or will you stand with me, even if to do so, means to stand alone and to suffer?”
If you say you have faith, then expect that faith to be tried and tested. God has repeatedly allowed me to be put through the fire, by placing me in situations where I had to choose whether I would stand with him and what was right or take the easy way out, whether I would place confidence in what my eyes were able to see, like a sure job and a sure salary in a time of recession or whether I would join the hall of faith with those who went before me and place my confidence in the God I had never seen but whose power I had read about and experienced in my own life on many mind-blowing occasions.
All in all, people have disappointed me on many an occasion and refused to stand with me when I needed emotional support the most but God has been faithful. Like Job when he was down and out and David, when all he had was taken from him and his own people spoke of stoning him, I have had my fair share of moments when I felt abandoned, misunderstood and overwhelmed by the storms of life. Yet that too is part of the process!
Like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, I too have had experiences in life where I can honestly say:
- “At my first answer no man stood with me but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
As David stated in Psalm 124, I can truly attest that:
- “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side… If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Through the strength that Jesus has provided and many times with his support alone, I’ve been able to walk away from situations and what looked like easy opportunities, even when I knew, that meant walking into the wilderness.
See, his perfect will is more important to me than my personal comfort. I am far from perfect and I have done many wrongs in my life but my faith is not one that dwells in the theoretic. It is a faith that has over the years, been put through the fire, that has been tried sorely through many tears and sorrows and has been tested.
I’ve been in situations that have felt like scorching fire and I thought I would melt into nothingness. The pain was so overwhelming and so intense, that at times, I felt like I would lose my mind or die. YET, it was only by the grace of God that I have been able to come out on the other side, victorious and with my faith in Jesus still in tact.
For me, whether blessings come or never do, whether doors open or shut cruelly in my face, whether I am accepted by people or rejected, Jesus remains the author and finisher of my faith and I refuse to let go of my relationship with him.
If I have to give up jobs, then so be it. If I have to give up having money in my bank account, then so be it. If I have to give up spouse prospects and remain single, then so be it. If when I have to make difficult decisions, I have to be shunned and criticized and ridiculed and misunderstood and condemned, then so be it.
My only concern is does God approve? Once God approves, that is all the support I need.
I have learned over the years, that if people do not believe in your vision and in your purpose, that is fine. Once you believe in it and it is given to you by God, that is all that matters. God does not define ‘success’ the way the world defines it. For him, a person cannot be successful without allowing themselves to be processed by him.
The PRICE of PROGRESS, for those willing to pay it (the cross), usually later leads to the PRIZE of the PROCESS (the crown).
(Written on 30th March, 2018)