How Difficult Times Prepare You for a Fruitful Future
Who is the most inspiring woman you know?
Think for a moment about a woman in your life or past who you think of being an absolute inspiration. Now, how would you describe them?
They are/were ____________. They always ____________. When I was ____________, they ____________. I’ll never forget the time they ____________.
One of my biggest influencers has since gone on to be with Jesus, but she was:
Strong-willed, loved people, full of joy, laughed a lot. She lived through and overcame many obstacles and gave the best advice. She was independent, loved hockey, and always wore dangly, colourful earrings. She was a teacher for most of her life and adored her husband, children and grandchildren. But more than anything, she loved Jesus.
We called her, "Pearly," "Grandma Glenna," “Grandma Pearl.” There are many days I have wished I could for her "pearls of wisdom."
Granda Glenna wasn't actually my grandmother (and by the way I REALLY love my Granny, she is the sweetest!). But Glenna was an important mentor to me during a difficult time in my life; I was going through a nasty divorce with my first husband and her "pearls of wisdom" saved me.
Glenna radiated God’s love. She was in-tune to God's instruction and really knew His voice. Because she heard God so clearly, she touched hundreds of lives. It would be accurate to say, “Her fruit tree became an orchard” (Matthew 7:15-20).
I want to be like that.
Now think about your own life for a minute, how do you think someone would describe you? Are you inspiring anyone around you?
Are you thinking, “I have so many things wrong with my life, how could I ever inspire anyone?!”.
One of the lies Satan whispers is, "You can’t minister to someone when your life is such a mess, who will believe God is working in your life?"
Satan doesn't want you to fulfill God's purpose for your life, so he will do everything he can to convince you that you are unqualified, unfit and unable.
The good news is God loves to use messy people (take that! Nice try, evil man). When we're obedient, God will use our difficult times to make us better people and ready us for our future.
When thinking about how you would want someone to describe you, I bet there are a lot of similarities to the person you described inspired you.
We all want to feel like we have purpose and we're making a difference, but it’s hard to see it when we live under a cloud of addiction.
“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” -Romans 5:3-4
Going through crap (yes, crap. Christians can say crap.) makes us interesting and strong. Relatable. We get people. We're brave. I know in the moment, we don't always feel so wonderful but we really are better people when we get to the other side.
If you take a step back from your current drama, there is so much to be thankful for.
If you live in North America, you are blessed. You don’t earn $10 a month, you have accessible healthcare, your kids can go to school, you have vegetables and clean water and clothing to wear. If you’re reading this, you probably have internet, a computer, a cellphone, a television, a car. Maybe more than one. Maybe more than two.
I can always find someone who has a worse situation than me. My husband may be in rehab, but I'm totally provided for. That's an awesome ministry!
But, I'm no one special....
“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.
We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s INCOMPARABLE power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.
We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not DEMORALIZED; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, He does in us—He lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.
WHILE we’re going through the worst, you’re getting IN on the best!
-2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (The Message)
This is part of a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a Church in Corinth. In those days, people used clay pots (this is a container made out of dirt we’re talking about here) for things like water, wine, food, you name it. On top on everyday use, what else did they use these hardened mounds of dirt for? To house their most precious valuables.
“We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives..."
You, me, we are the clay pots. Literally formed from the dirt (ah, ha!).
Without God, we are nothing more than an empty pot. When we start to live in our identity as God's children we become extraordinary and valuable. We house the most valuable thing in the world: the Love of God.
Which means, the only thing you need for a powerful ministry is love.
All you need is love
The Apostle Paul was also a clay pot. He's described as a zealot who used to persecute Christians. He literally dragged people out of their houses and killed them.
Do you think Paul the murderer felt like he was valuable to the Kingdom of God before God empowered him? How does a man like that become one of the most prominent authors of the Bible? God used his mess to make a powerful ministry!
People listened to Paul's message because they knew what kind of man he was before God changed his life.
God Loves The Brokenhearted
"Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." -2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
In Corinthians, Paul says we're going to experience terrible suffering like Jesus did and while it sucks, we will be "getting in on the best" from it.
No matter how many times Satan tries to hurt us, we will persevere; There's a ministry there.
Whatever we've done in our past Satan will use to hold us back by making us feel unworthy, we can overcome with God; There's a ministry there.
No matter how many times we fail, faith gives us strength to move forward; There's a ministry there.
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You will inspire others to follow Jesus when they see you're filled with peace and joy in the midst of this.
Hope is contagious!
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Start speaking your testimony of God’s goodness while your life is still messy
Remember, this story isn't about anyone in your life, it’s about you! Someone else's addiction has nothing to do with you.
It's not personal. It's not your fault. You can't make someone want to change.
Like the Apostle Paul, God doesn’t care who you were before. In fact, the more horrible you were to begin with, the better a story it’ll be. Look at how many people have heard Brian “Head' Welch’s story from the band, Korn. Alice Cooper gave a Bible to Marilyn Manson. You can’t reach unreachable people without first being one of them.
If you have a big, horrible story, I am so HAPPY you’re here! Man, this is me telling you right now, giving you permission, God wants to use you. You are going to be an inspiration. You have one of those amazing stories where people will look at you and say, "God has to be real".
Your mess is going to make an awesome ministry.
LOVED THAT? DON’T MISS…
*Previously entitled, “Your Mess is Going to Make an Awesome Ministry”. Updated 06/28/19.