Affirming our Faith During Trials











“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers {various} temptations {trials}; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience…”



Trials are a part of life.  MacArthur defines trials this way:    Something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, or happiness in someone’s life.   Trials can be big or small. They can range from news of a debilitating illness to going into the laundry room and finding your washing machine's last leg just broke.    Trials also come in multiples (notice the verse says 'various' trials); and it is not uncommon to have one big trial with lots of little trials coming at you at the same time.  

Anything that takes you outside your comfort zone and causes you distress is a trial!  If you are not in the middle of a trial now – you have been – you will be.    

  

There is something I have found to be so helpful to me when it seems the trials could overtake me.  In fact, just last week, I was met by several trials and found my spirit and my emotional state burdened down with several problems.  As I was working, I realized that I needed to stop focusing on all the problems and trials and focus instead on bedrock truths that I know to be true. I have done this many times -   I call it affirming my faith during times of trials. 

In the Christian life there are many things that we believe; but there are some truths that are foundational and ground us spiritually as we meditate upon them. They are basic truths we know to be true and it is good to remind ourselves of them when trials (no matter how big or how small) come into our lives.    These are the truths we must chose to focus on during times when we are burdened down with the cares of this life.   It is of utmost importance that we move from a horizontal (earthly) view of our trials to a vertical (eternal) view.

  Here are the truths I use to affirm my faith:

1.  God Loves Me
Satan loves to see Christians doubt the love God has for them; and Satan loves to use times of trials to lie to us and say that if God really loved us we would not be experiencing what we are up against.  This lie of Satan slips up many Christians – and it is just that -  a lie!  Calvary alone proves God loves us.  If there was no other example of God’s love – Calvary would be enough.     Perhaps this is my favorite verse when I meditate upon the love God has for me:

Isaiah 49:16 – “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…”






2.  God is Always (and Only) Good

God cannot be evil.  God cannot act selfishly or out of hatred.  He is good.  Even when life is bad and we see bad things happening around us we can know that is because we live in a fallen world – in a world that has heartache because of sin and the fall.  However, dark this word can be – it does not change the goodness of God.   When we take time to look, we can see each day God’s goodness to us.  In the midst of difficult situations it is good for us to take the time to remember how good God is and has been to us. 

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning:  great is thy faithfulness.”  (Lam 3:22,23)

Photo Credit:  Rachel Spurgeon


3.  God Will Never Leave Me

There is no trail so dark that God is not there with us. As Christians, we face nothing alone!   This is a comfort to know – He is always there.  This is also a truth to cling to in the midst of our trial.

He is there  - when things are difficult and we feel our hearts would break.  
He is there - when we don’t know what to do.  
He is there  - when it feels like He is not there. 

You want something to hang on to?  GOD NEVER LEAVES YOU.  If you feel like He has – you can rest assured that your feelings are wrong and the Bible is true. 

 Take this statement by faith – “I will never leave thee – nor forsake thee.”  (Sometimes that verse has to be believed in spite of our feelings!) 




4.  God’s grace is Sufficient for Anything I encounter in my Life

No trial can trump God’s grace.   God’s grace is His power given to me to encounter the difficulties I face in my life.   So when something is too hard for me – it’s not too hard for God.  What an amazing gift God has given us as Christians -  the ability to ask for His strength and His grace in any situation we encounter .  I love what Christ said to Paul as he encountered weakness and a deep trial in his life:

“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ 

I love Paul’s response to Christ’s statement to him:  “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me..  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake” for when I am weak, then am I strong.”   

In the middle of the weakness – that is where you will find God’s grace!





5. God has brought others through trials like Mine

Satan would like nothing more than to have you think that you are alone.  Satan loves to isolate.  It is a comfort to know that other Christians have walked through trials similar to mine.   What an encouragement to know that I am not alone in my trial!   Whatever you are in the middle of right now – someone else has been there too. 

Cancer?
Vehicle problems?
Financial difficulties?
Children who cant get along?
Betrayal?
Housework that seems overwhelming?
Loneliness?
Unplanned pregnancy?
Grief? 

You can take comfort in knowing you are not alone.  Scripture records the lives of many who have gone through dark times, books shelves can be filled with books on missionaries and other Christians who have gone through trials in their lives.   Don’t be afraid to look for others who have gone through trials – you will find comfort.  Don’t forget to share about your trials with others in the future.  We all need to know we are not alone in our suffering and trials.  (ICor 10:13)





6.  Trials Have the Ability to Give us a Spiritual Perspective

For a Christian, our life and the trials of life are more than meet the eye.  There is another realm that we cannot see that exists right now as we live our life in the day to day.   When I grasped this it completely changed the way I was looking at a trial that had plagued me with despair for years.  Here are the verses that the Holy Spirit used to change my perspective on my trial:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (Emphasis mine)

I had gone through a deep heart wrenching trial and every time I would think about it I would think about how difficult it was and how sad it had made me.  I thought about the tragedy of the trial.   Then when I read these verses I realized I was only seeing the “things that were seen” and I was failing to see  the eternal things.   It was like the Holy Spirit put on some spiritual glasses and gave me HOPE that my trial had eternal value.    Don’t just see your trial from an earthly perspective – that is temporary.  I challenge you to seek an eternal viewpoint.  (Romans 8 in a wonderful chapter to read and reread during times of trials.) 



Satan loves to see a Christian defeated by the trials life brings her way.    We don’t have to be defeated!  It is amazing to realize that the trials we encounter in this life can actually deepen our faith and affirm the very things we believe about God! 

Can I challenge you to allow these truths to affirm your faith in your God?  He is doing something through the trials that you are walking through at this time!  How wonderful it is when the very things that Satan would love to see trip us up and discourage us in our walk with God actually has the opposite effect!  Trials can BUILD and STRENGTHEN our faith in God!    Allow the trial you are in the middle of right now affirm your faith and deepen your walk with God. 

Blessings,
~Martie

Out of the Mouths of Babes






It was a Saturday morning.  I was getting ready for my appointment;  she had been snuggling with me in bed earlier and was now joining me in the bathroom as I was putting on my makeup.

She held up the thick brush and with pleading eyes she asked if she could put on some blush. 

It was Saturday, so I nodded and continued on with my eye shadow. 

She brushed with enthusiasm and her little cheeks grew pinker and pinker and she brushed and swirled the blush on her small little face.  She kept chatting and I kept attempting something new with my eye lids.



“Ann’s skin is so beautiful, Mom. Did you notice how pretty her skin was when you saw her at my school?”
I nodded my head and gave some small agreement.  I remembered Ann.  She was the friend that shared her name.

“And my other friend’s skin is pretty too.  So pretty.” 

I decided to enter into this conversation with some motherly words of wisdom, “ Anna, your skin is beautiful. You have very beautiful skin.”  

“But Ann doesn’t need makeup.  I will – just like you.  I have white skin, but Ann has brown skin.  I wish my skin was dark like Ann’s. Don’t you think that black people and brown people have the most beautiful skin in the whole world?”



It was then that I realized what she was comparing –  and indeed she was correct – both of her friends had beautiful brown skin.  I agreed, “Yes Anna, dark skin is absolutely beautiful.  Sometimes when I see their skin I just want to touch it because it looks so smooth.  I think you are right, black and brown people have the most beautiful skin.”        

We stood there for a few moments in silence. I assumed the conversation was done.   She was still swirling and I was still working with the mascara brush.  Suddenly her voice was tense and her words were laced with fear and concern.  There was panic in her little voice when the words came tumbling out, “Would you have adopted me if I had been black?”

 The words hung thick in the air. 


The week she came to live with us. 

As soon as her terrifying words were said, deep sadness filled my heart.  Even the question of us not choosing her as our own caused my heart to skip a beat.  Just the thought of her not being mine caused me to feel like a part of me ceased to exist.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and leaned down close and met her gaze. I looked straight into her big beautiful brown eyes. 

“Yes, Anna.  We would have adopted you if you were black. We didn’t adopt you because of the color of your skin.  We adopted you because we wanted you.    We loved *you* – not the color of your skin.”   

“Oh good!” I could hear the relief in her voice.  “I wish I had black skin; but I’m so glad I have you as my Mom; and if I was black I would still want you to be my Mom.     She continued to talk about how when she is a teenager she will need to have extra time in the bathroom in the mornings when she is old enough to wear makeup.    I assured her that we will be able to accommodate that when the time comes. 



 Sometimes the most profound conversations happen when you least expect them; this one reminded me how all of us are the same.  Regardless of skin color – we all are people needing to be loved and accepted.  Had Anna been black or brown or white she was a little baby in need of a family to love her and care for her.  I am so glad God brought her to us.  I cannot imagine our lives without her. 



Jesus loves the little children
 All the children of the world
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world. 

Zak's Next Chapter






Zak's Adoption Day


I have a feeling that all parents who have a special needs child feel the balancing act that comes with trying new things to take their child to the next level and accepting that there child will never be ‘normal’ (whatever that is).  I’ve read as many books as I could get my hands on about autism; and I have tried many things.   

Through the years there was one thing I always wanted to try – I wanted to send my son to a school that would meet his special needs -  and build his faith in God. 

I had grown up hearing about Pastor Vaughn and his wife and daughter who were badly burned in a house fire.  I was seven when I heard about the little girl who had been burned so badly.  I had prayed for her – and for her mother.  I had thought about how horrible it would be to suffer so badly.  Through the years, I had heard about how she had miraculously recovered and how her Dad had started a Christian school for children with special needs.  



When Zak was diagnosed with Autism I went on their website and looked at the school way down in South Carolina; and I wished so badly that we lived closer so that Zak could go to that school.  Then I realized that even if we lived closer – there was no way we could afford to send him to a school like that.  I can’t count how many times in the past ten years I have pulled up Hidden Treasure Christian School’s website and dreamed about how wonderful it would be if Zak could go there; only to exit out of the site knowing there was no way it could ever happen. 

The first time my husband and I walked through the school I had to keep the tears in.  To be standing on the property of the school I had longed for so many times was overwhelming.  Watching as the teachers worked with the children I knew that this school would be so wonderful for Zak.   While we were touring campus I came across a quote made by the founder of the school.  I knew as soon as I read it that God was going to somehow move us to Greenville and was going to have Zak go to the school. 

“Every child has everything he/she needs to do the will of God for their lives.”

As soon as I read that quote I burst out into tears.  The quote touched me deeply; because there have been so many times in the past ten years I had wished for the autism to be gone and Zak to be normal.  Through the Holy Spirit’s guiding I have realized that Zaks’ autism and all his other diagnosis’ are not mistakes - they are part of God’s sovereign plan for his life and for ours. 


August 2016

Zak has everything he needs to do the will of God for his life. 

Zak started school there two weeks ago.  As we walked through the school for the open house, I fought back tears. I was reminded again the significance of Zak’s name.  Zechariah means: God Remembers.    

Indeed, He does!