Have you ever had a moment in time when you thought, “Wow, God, you really listened! I see evidence of that answered prayer.” I had a big “ah ha” moment like this yesterday morning, and I feel drawn to share. So, let me tell you a little story.
In April 2017, I reached out to one of our pastors about something weighing heavily on my heart. I struggled specifically with the idea of perseverance in my life. I felt as if I couldn’t juggle everything, and it seemed I just wasn’t built for persevering. I felt like I was falling short. As a result, my hope in certain parts of my life seemed to dwindle.
Over the weeks and months leading up to this meeting, the same passage of scripture came up numerous times in things I read and listened to. It was as if God was putting this particular passage on my heart, and I carried the verses, written on an index card, with me to share with him. Here are the verses…
Romans 5:1-5 Faith Triumphs
5 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces perseverance, 4 perseverance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The pastor and I sat down to talk briefly before a church service. I didn’t realize he was preaching that particular Sunday, and when he sat down with his mic already on, I have to admit I was a bit afraid that I was set to reveal my soul to our large congregation. Thankfully, the mic was off.
As we spoke, I was blown away when he told me he was releasing his second book, and the book was centered around this very verse. (It turns out the sermon that day was connecting to this topic as well. You tell me that’s not a God thing.)
I told him my struggles with perseverance—that when I looked at this verse, I felt overwhelmed because perseverance seemed to be the thing that led to everything else in the chain reaction. He pointed out that “by faith” was actually first. That building a strong faith life is like setting the foundation for everything else to fall into place. So, I walked away from this meeting determined to strengthen my faith walk and relationship with God even more. As he suggested, I set out to create healthy, purposeful spiritual habits.
I got up in the morning earlier to have time with God. I read the Bible more. I read devotionals. I listened to podcasts. I listened to Christian music on my radio. I prayed… throughout the day. I specifically prayed that God would draw me closer to Him. I prayed that I would look at this world through a Godly lens instead of a worldly lens. I prayed very specifically for help growing in the area of perseverance.
Fast forward to this past Friday. I was riding to Charleston to go to my doctor’s appointment. It was a big appointment—I hoped to be cleared to start weaning out of the back brace that I’ve worn for nearly seven months since my surgery. As we made the drive, I felt something placed on my heart. I was thinking of the surgery journey and all I’ve been through, how positive I’ve stayed through it all, and I felt drawn to speak about my experience. (It has always been a dream of mine to be an inspirational speaker.) I realized how strongly I want to give my testimony to others. I thought to myself, what would this talk really be about though? My immediate answer? Perseverance.
That’s when the “Ah ha” hit me. I thought, “WAIT. WHAT?” I hadn’t thought about that meeting in a long time, but I suddenly could see us sitting at the little table discussing my fears about perseverance in my life.
I don’t believe God makes bad things happen. I do believe God uses bad things to strengthen us. I met with the pastor in April. My back problems began in December. Because of the work I had done on my faith foundation and the strong spiritual habits I developed, I have been able to persevere. I have built a stronger character. And I feel hope… all through this time of affliction. It is mind-blowing. And I do rejoice. I do have peace with this situation. God is so good.
I cannot express strongly enough how much a strong faith foundation will change your life. I have lived it. I am living it. I cannot express how important a support system is for your life. I have been wrapped in prayers throughout this whole time of trial. It matters. And, I might add that this pastor has been super supportive throughout this entire situation, as well as other pastors and members of our church. I believe God puts the right people in our lives to help carry us. And I am so very thankful.
(Oh, and I did get cleared to wean out of the brace. Yay!)