Sitting in the sanctuary with about 1000 people yesterday during “open mic,” I prayed, “If you want me to say something, Lord, You’ll need to calm my heart. I really don’t want to get up and do this.”
I seldom get nervous about speaking in public, but for some reason, He and I sometimes have the same conversation when it’s “open mic” at church, especially when I have an answer to the question they’re asking. My heart usually pounds, and then He calms it if He wants me to speak. I know a number of people have the same experience.
And of course yesterday was no different than the other times He’s had me walk up and speak.
When my heart’s racing suddenly disappeared, I filled it with the thought His direction, “Okay.”
There wasn’t even a flutter when I realized what I was supposed to say.
I did think, however, of a woman who berated me a few years ago, saying, “God doesn’t allow suffering. He’s kind and good. You’re completely wrong and you don’t know Him if you think He does.”
I wondered (okay, worried a bit) about the people who didn’t understand, didn’t know Him or the Bible, the newcomers to church, and what effect my words would have on them.
The question was, “What has God done that you are thankful for?” Honestly, even though there are a number of things I could have had serious complaint about (daily wondering if my husband’s heart will have the dreaded issue where he dies within minutes not being a minor one) I also have about a bazillion things I’m thankful for. I could have listed them, and I could have said any number of them, but He had ONE thing I was supposed to say.
So I said it.
I’m thankful for … (throat fills, tears well, Gosh am I going to lose it? style)
I’m thankful for the suffering of the last year.
Did I just say that out loud?
I explained a bit of it to them.
I hadn’t asked my husband for permission to talk in detail about his health so I spoke about it in general terms. I mentioned in my ministry team that seems unrelentingly assaulted. I proclaimed that God was good, that we were growing, and that I was thankful.
THEN my heart pounded. 🙂 Of course my thoughts were back on myself, wondering about people’s perceptions, concerned I would get email or messaged on Facebook about how wrong I was, how hurtful my comments were, how I didn’t know Him.
But I also sensed His pleasure, paid attention to that, and of course my heart calmed again. And I remembered Jeremiah – then I was thankful I wasn’t him. I remembered Hosea. I was doubly grateful I wasn’t him, too. Jeremiah was given a mission from God to speak His truths to the people, but there was a caveat – basically, God told him that no one would listen to him. That stinks. I couldn’t have done it. Hosea was given a mission to marry an adulterous woman – and keep taking her back. I don’t think I could have done that one, either. I was then thankful for the mission He’s given me – to help others have healthier relationships with God, themselves, and others… to help them make a greater impact in the things He has them doing.
My husband and I were talking about the differences between what I do now and what I did when I was working. I was a corporate trainer that did relationship coaching and pubic speaking coaching for companies. I did a ton of professional speaking. I got paid very nicely for it. I absolutely LOVED the work and the people – it was really rewarding to coach someone in the midst of a difficult moment, have them do what you suggest and SEE that they’re more effective. People were changed forever as a result of the classes. I told my husband, however, that ministry was different.
“It was rewarding to help someone have a better relationship with their coworkers and family members, to help them overcome their fear of public speaking, help them get better at it, but to help someone connect to God more deeply? There’s nothing like THAT. It’s a completely different experience, a completely different feeling, and it’s ten times more rewarding to just be part of what He’s doing, even to just watch it happen. It’s why I breathe.”
I don’t take any of the credit or responsibility for what He does in Daughters of Sarah or The Respect Dare. I can’t handle that level of accountability. 🙂 All the good that comes from what I do is 100% from Him – even if someone thinks I’m okay at facilitating the process, He’s still the one Who does it, if that makes sense.
But I am oh so thankful to watch, to be a small part of what He does between Himself and His people.
Sometimes that means being thankful for growth – which always comes through suffering.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
There are 3 things I’ve learned about how to rejoice in suffering:
- At first, it’s a choice – a choice to trust Him, to know there’s something we don’t know, something we don’t see yet, even if that choice is made 100 times a day…
- We need to think the way He tells us to – Philippians 4:8 style.
- If we offer our sufferings as a sacrifice back to Him, for some reason, that helps.
1 Peter 2:20
For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
Dare you today to be thankful for the “minutia moments,” maybe even listing a few of them in the comment section here. As for me, I’m thankful my husband and I had another day together yesterday. I’m thankful my kids all woke up this morning. I’m thankful my golden retriever follows me around the house. I’m thankful I have coffee. And I’m thankful for the pain I woke up with – it’s less than it was yesterday morning, because I got about 8 hours sleep last night.
And I’m thankful for your prayers, notes of encouragement, emails of hope, and beautiful comments here.
I’m really thankful you’re on the journey with me.
I added a little something for you, too. 🙂 One of my viral pages is 101 Ways to Respect Your Husband. I made it a pretty document – if you sign up for the TIPS! articles on the sidebar, you can get it delivered to your inbox. It’s also going up for sale on Kindle, but why pay for it when you can get it for nothing here? 🙂
It’s my gift to you, one of thankfulness for being with not just me,
but your sisters as we journey together.
Love to you,