Friday, January 13, 2012

TIME TO TESTIFY (Hold On To Faith)

   Hold On To Faith

James 1:2-4  Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.                                                                                                                        NLT

   Yes, it's hard facing the "season of trials". One or two trials aren't too bad. But when more and more are laid upon us and we think we're about to get our breakthrough but all we get is more discouragement... it is hard to keep the faith.
   Believe me, I know from my own personal experience just how hard it is to hold on to faith when nothing seems to be improving and your faith gets so shaken that you just want to give up because believing now seems like a hopeless dream.
   In the summer of 2010, the state suddenly closed down the Healthcare agency where I was employed. There was no warning. No information on what to do next. Nothing!!! But I held on to faith because I knew in my heart that God would work things out all for good.
   After 3 weeks and still no information, I decided to work at a retail store. Then a month later, I was hired at a different Healthcare facility and now I was working two jobs. Things were going great as I was making good income to catch up on bills that I got behind in during the small amount of time I wasn't working.
   Then two months after working both jobs, I ended up with health issues. My hours at the Healthcare agency were reduced. I had to take an unpaid leave-of-absence from the retail store, which was my primary source of income. Things were looking very bleak and, hard as it was, I maintained my faith. I knew God had something good waiting for me. I just needed to be patient and trust Him.
   By now it was the beginning of a new year. I just knew 2011 was going to be better. I had God on my side.
   But it wasn't! Starting the new year I began having issues with my phone. I went with a different service provider thinking I'd get better service. I was wrong. Instead I encountered worse service and more frustration. Still enduring loss of income and health issues, my faith was getting a little shaky. It seemed to be taking forever for my trials to end and instead just seemed to be encountering more.
   Three months later, I was told from the retail store, my leave-of-absence would be extended for six more months and after the six month period if I was not able to return to work without restrictions then I would be let go. My health issues were so serious that the doctors told me I needed surgery. Problem was... I didn't have any insurance and didn't have, nor would have anytime soon, the finances to cover the surgery. Now, my faith is really growing dim.
   Now, one year later, nothing has improved and suddenly I begin having issues concerning my car. I finally reached my breaking point! It seemed, everytime I  "let go and let God", something else would come up. Bills were accumulating, finances dwindling, health was weakening, communication and transportation issues just seemed too much to bear.
   My faith was so shaken I couldn't help but become angry with God. (Some of us do that don't we? We blame God when things aren't going right, because we expect Him to take care of everyhting so we don't have problems in life.) I went outside to my backyard, crying like I never cried before, and I screamed, "Where are You now? Why are You doing this to me? I'm tired of this crap! Nothing's getting better!"
   Then I got a crazy idea in my head and I called someone I knew who could get me some drugs. "Hey, can you score me a teener of "ice" (meth)?" I asked them in my frustration.
   "I probably can but I need to call the guy and see what time. I'll call you back and let you know." They replied.
   When I hung up the phone I felt the Holy Spirit coming over me and telling me that turning to the drugs again wasn't the right thing to do. The Spirit was telling me to hold on just a little bit longer.
   But by now I'm just really frustrated and weary. I unassuredly told God, "I might as well go back to the drugs. Ain't nothin' else goin' right in my life anyway."
   As I waited for the phone call, I was filled with this sense of inner peace, God's Peace. I began to reflect on how blessed I was before  my trials came. I realized that, although, my bills were increasing and my health wasn't what it once was --- God was still providing for me!  I had plenty of food to eat, my utility bills were being paid, I did have communication and transportation when I needed it. I had friends and family who were there for me to help encourage me and to help me keep the faith. My health was weakened but I was still able to do more than some people.
   Jolting my thoughts, the phone call I was waiting for came and I answered, "Hey, forget about that. I don't need it. I was just very angry and fed up with everything. But I can't go back to the drugs."
   "So you don't want that teener?"
   "No. I'm sticking with God. He's been too good to me for me to turn back now. He'll get me through this."
   "Okay. I'll tell them to forget it. Bye."
   "Bye." I said and as I hung up the phone I sat in silence and began to feel guilty. Guilty for getting angry with God. Guilty for almost giving up all my faith in Him. So again I began crying, only this time I cried to the Lord, "Lord, I'm sorry for getting angry and not wanting to trust You. Please forgive me. Lord, everything just became so overwhelming for me and it just seemed too hard for me. But I do have faith in You! Lord, I know You have been taking care of me. And You saw me, Lord, I didn't go back to my old ways and do the drugs again. I know You'll see me through this, Lord. I want  to trust You. I will wait for You and Your plans You have for me. Amen."
  After that prayer, I felt calm and was led to go read the Book of Job in my Bible. As I read Job, it was so similar to what I endured and how I was feeling. After reading all of Job, I couldn't help but rejoice! I knew God was telling me He understood my frustrations and that He forgave me. And I'll kid you not, three months later, my "season of trials" ended. Slowly I began to see God's promises. I still have a few kinks to get past but the struggle is over. I see the light getting brighter with each new day.
   So brothers and sisters, please listen to me when I say, "Hold on to faith." Keep on trusting God. Regardless, of what is going on around you and what you are going through. Even if things seem hopeless, God is right there with you and He's getting you through. Hold on to faith and you will see the end of the trial and be able to rest in His Peace again.
   My season lasted one and a half years. That, to me, is a very long season to endure trials. But I made it. And I'm convinced, although our trials may not be the same, just as God pulled me out of my trials... "Hold on to faith!" and He will pull you out of your trials also.

Insight: The reason many people aren't victorious is because they quit just as their breakthrough was coming!

   "Hold on to FAITH!" Your breakthrough is just around the corner! Believe It ! IT IS COMING!!! That's God's promise to you and God never breaks His promise. That you can be sure of!!!


God bless!
                                                                                         Shalom, Dejon

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