by Com Frederick
Five years ago, I was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Recently the disease has progressed, leaving damage to most of my muscles. I know God can heal me. But what he has chosen to do is even better.
Five years ago, I was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Recently the disease has progressed, leaving damage to most of my muscles. I know God can heal me. But what he has chosen to do is even better. The past seven months have been an amazing spiritual journey. God has given me keys to victory in suffering that I will try to briefly summarize here:
1. Don’t confuse the pain and grief of a trial with spiritual defeat. It’s easy to equate negative feelings, pain, and fatigue with spiritual defeat. Victory in trial does not mean we are magically transported above the hurting. The very word "trial" implies hurting but not defeat. The pain is part of the Lord’s working in our lives through the situation. I now know that my spirit is separate from my body and can be in total health no matter what is happening. What a joy and freedom there is in this revelation!
2. Don’t be afraid of brokenness and grieving. God’s goal in trial is often to bring us to the end of ourselves, a process called brokenness. But we run from it because we equate it with spiritual weakness. When my feelings overwhelmed me, I applied my "emotional bandage" and hid behind my "everything’s wonderful" front. But when the wound began to seep around the edges of the bandage, then I physically hid so no one would see. Finally, a callous formed and the soreness eased, but I missed God’s real intention-to heal the wound from the inside out.
The Lord says a broken and contrite heart he will not despise. In Psalm 147:3 he says, "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." When we try to bind our wounds we are using our own strength, but God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Brokenness is God’s tool to do an eternal work that is more important than being delivered out of the trial. Brokenness leads to relinquishment. The things I thought made me special, that were my ministries, were gone. But as I learned that I could not define how God should use me, he began to open other doors.
Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep." Those who ministered to me when I was in extreme pain were those who wept with me. They could have recited Romans 8:28 to me. I knew God could work it all for good but it still hurt. Just because a person is going through a time of brokenness does not mean he’s lost sight of the Lord.
3. Don’t compare yourself with others. When I looked at Christians who had the victory, I thought, "What’s wrong with me?" The enemy loves to use testimonies to cause us to doubt ourselves rather than build our faith. Sometimes others would come to me and make comparisons, leaving me depressed instead of encouraged.
When we hear a testimony we must remember the victory, but also the months or years of trial that it took to obtain the victory. There is no victory where there has been no battle.
4. Learn to distinguish between the trial and the temptations that go along with it. The trial cannot be avoided but discouragement, self-pity, and so on, are temptations and we can say No to them. The Bible tells us to praise the Lord and rejoice in all things. Praise is a real sacrifice when we’re hurting. But it is the absolute key to the abundant life, because it transports us beyond the pain to who he is. If we can praise him for nothing else, we can always praise him for who he is.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on that which is lovely and pure and worthy of praise. The enemy wants us to be discouraged and focus on our failures. But praise is a powerful weapon because it gives us resistance to the enemy’s lies, and when we resist him he will flee from us.
5. Don’t let your failures become your downfall. Sometimes you won’t make the right choice. There are days I give in to self-pity and then the enemy says, "See, you can’t do it!" But God is always ready to receive us back. His forgiveness enables us to walk in the light even when we have failed. Every moment is a new beginning with God.
So take heart, my brothers and sisters, and don’t run from the pain you are facing. God will use it to refine you and draw you into a closer walk with him. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and make them yours today.
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