I use to say I didn’t have a testimony.
Soon I began actively volunteering at 18 years old and often got the same question:
“What’s your story?”
Understanding the reason for the question. People wanted to know my motivation.
They wanted to hear about the struggles and trials, the subsequent successes and victories. They wanted to hear real stories that could be shared in the right circumstances. Utilized to encourage others going through their own hurts and heartaches… But the truth was, I didn’t really feel I had a story.
My childhood was great. I grew up with family and friends who I loved, who also loved me. I wasn’t exposed to anything traumatic, or even difficult. My life was actually very easy. And I knew this. I realized very young that not everyone had a safe home, supportive family, or even someone in their life who was invested in their development and success.
God’s been very good to me.
Acutely aware that I was more blessed than many I wanted to help others however I could, but in doing this would often have to reluctantly admit that I didn’t have much of a testimony… except that God’s been very good to me.
Maybe God got tired of me saying that.
7 Years Ago
About 7 years ago a storm began in my life that caught me by surprise and has required a resilience I didn’t think I possessed.
It started when my 60-year young healthy mother graduated to eternity very unexpectedly. She was holidaying overseas, and my daughter was just three months old.
I had found in my breast was cancerous
Two years on I found myself a single working mum with a toddler and infant, shouldering the financial and practical responsibilities of raising two children alone. Less than a year after that I was told the lump that I had found in my breast was cancerous, four months and three surgeries later I was healing from a mastectomy. A year later, while still recovering from all the losses, my now 3-year-old son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Deep breath. Now… exhale.
I Didn’t Ask For A Testimony
I hadn’t asked for the storm, hadn’t even really asked for a testimony, though I knew there were so many people who have had to endure horrific traumas, much worse than what I was facing. But this was my storm.
My reality. Every dark cloud, every jarring flash of lightning, every deafening clap of thunder and tumultuous wave felt dangerously overwhelming like it was going to push me beyond what I was capable of enduring.
There were moments of grief so raw it felt suffocating, I couldn’t even breathe let alone regain composure.
Days it was difficult to think of anything except the bills I had to pay and appointments I had to attend. Times I struggled with the isolation of dealing with so much alone. I’ve always had people around me who have loved and supported me, but they also have their own lives, families, and relationships to deal with and are not always available, or able, to help.
So, I did what my late mother had taught me best … I reached out to God, and I held on to Him as tight as I could.
Determined to Reach out to God
I prayed, fasted, did devotionals and read my Bible as many times a day as I could. I was in church services two or three times a week and played music from the time I woke up until I went back to sleep again, and most moments in between.
Jesus music. Hip Hop. R&B. Gospel. Contemporary.
Different styles, but always music that glorified God and helped me keep my focus on Him. Sometimes I did it crying, other times feeling victorious, and other times feeling numb, but I did it.
I was determined to praise Him through the storm.
I’ve been a Christian a long time, so I knew I wasn’t alone in my response to adversity. I studied people like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three young men, living in a foreign land, defiantly declared the confidence they had in their God who they knew was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace they were being threatened with. Paul and Silas, finding themselves imprisoned, literally prayed and praised until they were no longer confined to their jail cell.
My Response to Adversity
The Bible is full of testimonies of countless believers who had to get through the trials in their lives, clinging to God even when the situation was dark, even when the outcome was unclear, even when it seemed God was no longer in control of the events that were wreaking havoc and causing chaos.
Jesus says in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He said we WILL have trouble, but we can choose to have peace during those times of trouble.
We WILL have obstacles, but we can choose to trust God and His purpose for those obstacles.
Daniel didn’t know when he went into the lion’s den that he would come out unharmed. Joseph didn’t know when he was in the pit, that this was part of the path that would lead him to the palace. Moses didn’t know when he fled Egypt that his time in a foreign land would prepare him to return and lead the nation of Israel out of captivity. Esther didn’t know when she went before the king that she would save her people from persecution and death. We know these stories well. We know the endings….
But these men and women went through the messy middle of their testimony, the storms in their life, without sermons on youtube encouraging them.
They stayed the path without inspiring Instagram quotes or Facebook prayer groups. Those in old testament times prayed and praised through their storm without the filling of the Holy Spirit or the peace that comes with His gentle whispers and quiet assurances.
…without sermons on youtube encouraging them.
Re-focusing my Vision
While the last 7 years have been the most challenging of my life, it’s also been the most fulfilling. I have had two beautiful children, I’ve been able to be a part of overseas mission trips, local outreaches, and publish my first book.
The storm provided an opportunity for me to have an intimacy with God I had never had before. Cliches like “God is all I need” becomes more than just words when you’ve had moments where God was REALLY all you had, and He was the one who got you through.
The best thing it’s allowed me to do is to encourage others.
I can speak with authority about how good God is, because of what He’s done in my life. My favourite scripture to remind people of is Matthew 14.
When Jesus called Peter out of the boat in the midst of a storm Peter obeyed. Walking on water. Eyes fixed on His Lord. He only began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and shifted his focus to the storm around him… But until that moment he walked on the waves, moved forward despite the storm, and if we keep our eyes on Jesus we can do the same.
I’m Not Special
I share my story to say I’m no more special than anyone else. What He’s done for me, He can do for you.
None of us are immune to the troubles and trials that life brings…
But I’ve got my testimony because of my storm. I’ve praised, and prayed, and held on to God, despite the challenges I faced. I have endured the worst of my storm and come out stronger, more secure in my identity in Christ, and more sure of the “more” that He has for me.
He has more for all of us if we stay focused on Him. God is more than our failures, more than our grief, more than cancer, more than autism, more than divorce… He is more. He has so more.
While we are not promised a trouble-free life, we have been promised, that God will walk us through every challenge, every trial, every storm. He said He will never leave us or forsake us, and we have the assurance that there is a reason for it all. If you praise Him through your storm you will reach the destination God has for you.
The palace that the pit was leading you to.
The purpose you were created to fulfil.
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