Updated: Mar 30, 2020
For two weeks, the pain was agonizing. I slept very little because there was no position I could assume that would afford me relief. I have undergone surgeries in the past where the post-operative pain was a cake walk compared to what I have just experienced. So, why am I bringing this woes me trial to you? Because through this trial, God taught me things that were life-changing and if I can spare my brother a little a little pain, here goes. Not only is this a message, but also my heartfelt confession to the church as God's Word instructs ... to confess our sins one to another that we may be healed.
As I was going through this awful pain, all I could think of and pray for was that the Lord would take it away. No medication I took could relieve it. After many days of pain and sleepless nights, I became so frustrated and so angry at God, I didn't care about God's command that tells us in Eph 4:29,
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth."
The words flowing from my mouth greatly upset Heidi and in the morning, I received a STRONG rebuke from her... and well-deserved! I realized Heidi's rebuke came from her spirit which brought tears of repentance to my eyes. Now that God had gotten my attention, I was more than ready to hear from Him. Yet, I continued to pray He take the pain away and pluck me out of my valley of misery!
As I was sitting on the chair trying to get comfortable unable to lie down on a bed or couch, I heard these life-changing Words in my spirit:
"You say you want to serve Me and be like an immovable anchor, but you are more like a feather."
I knew what God was telling me. He was pointing out that when tribulation or a walk in the valley comes, I behave like a babe in the faith who still drinks milk and just caves in. Eph 4:14 says, "... that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine ..."
I wasn't being carried away with every wind of doctrine, but my "FAITH" during times of trial was weak and blowing around like a feather in the wind.
After God spoke this to my heart, I wrote the following:
"The disciples and apostles were the bedrock, the cement and foundation for the church."
"Oh, how we desire to emulate their character without having to undergo the extreme suffering many of them had to endure."
"Our heart's desire is to serve the Lord and become like immovable anchors in the storms of life."
"Yet, too many times during our own suffering and tribulation valleys to which we may be called, rather than anchors, we instead become like feathers in the wind."
I failed God's test of faith.
I am not completely out of this valley, but I feel I am soon coming to the end of it.
Through this trial, though, what has God taught me?
(1) He doesn't allow a trial or a valley walk without desiring for us to learn something. God is not cruel, wanting us to suffer for no reason. I had head knowledge of this but it never seeped into my heart.
(2) I learned it is sometimes better not to pray that God would remove the trial, but rather to pray He would walk beside me, holding my hand through it. God may place us in a valley to perhaps learn, to reprove, to grow in faith. The valley is His will and His purpose for us. Through it, my hope and prayer was as written in Rom 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
I had to believe something good would come out of my suffering! This is what kept me going.
(3) I learned while walking through the valley, God will never leave us or forsake us. As it says in His Word:
Ps 138:7, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me. You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies (in this case, PAIN), and Your right hand will save me.”
Deut 31:8, “The Lord, himself, goes before you and will be there with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Psalm 23:4, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart ..."
(4) I knew that an anchor is solid and immovable, preventing a large ship from moving in port. An anchor is forged from steel or iron at a foundry. The metal is super-heated so it can be molded into what the maker intends, while removing all the impurities which would make the anchor weak and decrease its tensile strength.
I learned that a spiritual anchor, forged in our spiritual hearts and minds as we put on the mind of Christ, is composed of spiritual steel: FAITH, HOPE, and TRUST in God: FAITH in God's Word, that He is faithful and true to His promises to us; along with HOPE and TRUST in God, that He would bring His promises to pass.
I also learned it's easy to deceive ourselves, thinking we possess this spiritual steel. But, when a trial hits, when we go from the mountaintop to the valley and God seems so distant, how do we react? Do we possess that strong, spiritual anchor that will get us through the troubled times that are coming? We've all read of Peter who, by accounts, possessed faith as steel. Yet, in a moment of weakness, he denied knowing Jesus three times before the cock crowed. Are you certain your faith is strong?
Our spiritual anchor must also be super-heated in God's refining fire so God can mold and shape it, so He can burn off the impurities that would weaken it ... doubt, unbelief, self-will, stubbornness, hardness of heart, and double-mindedness. God's refining fire is often located in the valleys we are called to walk.
(5) I learned that when tribulation presents itself, my faith is often more like a feather blowing in the wind rather than an immovable anchor. My faith is not as strong as I believed it to be and I am not the man of strong faith I thought myself to be. However, with God's help and in my willingness to submit to Him, I believe this will change.
We sing songs such as, Refiner's Fire: