I have several friends who are hurting in this season. Some financial and some emotional or relational. There is plenty of shaking going on, and I wondered how to pray; whether to reach out; what to do? Friends experiencing hardship is tricky. There is a fine line between carrying one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and every man carrying his own load (Gal. 6:5).
The Fall – I fell on my face financially eight years ago. Not many reached out because my personality and history is full of accomplishments, self-sufficiency, leading others, and vision. No one thought I was vulnerable, so they didn’t reach out. I called friends every few days trying to cheer myself up! It turned out to be a strategic time of me and God sorting things out. For months I dealt with depression, thoughts of suicide, anger, self-pity, near-bankruptcy issues, and selling horses, dogs, land, furniture, cars, trailers – my future evaporated. I had given up on my dreams, let go of my possessions, and right when others were blessed, I was starting over.
After several months of feeling sorry for myself, God just said, “John, this wasn’t your fault and it wasn’t my fault. Sometimes stuff just happens. Nothing has changed regarding your purpose – you weren’t wrong. Now, do you want to come home, or would you like to finish your purpose.” Through tears, I told Him I wanted to finish.
The resurrection – There was a resurrection after that but also a change in my heart. I was broken in a good sense. I realized the Kingdom would still move on, even if I didn’t survive. It put me in touch with my own mortality and value. My success and survival weren’t the most important things anymore. The Kingdom is not entirely about “me.” It turned out to be a foundation for even greater courage. I’m not afraid to try new things because the worst is already behind, and I’ve tasted resurrection. I loved my own life less, and loved God and His people more. I am not my own to take care of and worry about. I’m part of a bigger family with a bigger strategy.
1 Cor 6:19-20 – You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV
Something does have to die for us to be courageous and step out – mostly ego, which is on its way the crusher anyway. This brokenness or death turned out to be very liberating. My survival and prosperity isn’t a condition I put on the assignments God gives me. I trust Him with my life.
Rev. 12:11 – …they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. NIV
Luke 20:17-18 – The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. KJV
John 10:17-18 – The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. NIV
Luke 22:41-44 – He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. NIV
Choosing between victim or victorious – Unhealed people consistently refer to the victimization of the past. Healed people talk about who they are now and where they are going in the future. It doesn’t mean that the past is forgotten, but it’s not where our identity, power, strength, or motivation originate. Our failures don’t define us. Success is not a prerequisite for doing what the Father does. The progression God walks us through has these four stages.
#1. The seed in the ground – Most setbacks have a season of sorting through the pain, the questions, and the circumstances. The disappointment and the emotions are real, they suck, and we shouldn’t pretend to be healed when we’re not. Our heart has to have time to find a reason to resurrect; time to trade the lies surrounding the events for the real truth of our future. Our hearts need a safe place to be vulnerable and honest while simultaneously being loved and reminded of the truth. Jesus wasn’t resurrected for 3 days. The surgery happens while we’re in the ground feeling hopeless. We have to trust a loving Father to accomplish what we cannot – resurrection!
#2. Surrender – We are healed when we surrender our hearts to the idea that we will be raised up to something greater, that good will come of our experience with death. It’s not resignation to failure, death, or perpetual disappointment. It’s simply trusting that God will do what we cannot and we can keep on going. Surrender is what releases God’s power and our personal initiative—broken first, courageous second.
#3. Brokenness – All who have experienced these cycles of death and resurrection carry a certain reverence and humility before God. Everyone around them can sense the depth in their heart and the wisdom of their words. They carry a new empathy for people without protecting them from their own path. They are tender as a lamb, yet courageous as a lion. They have already tasted death, and they are not afraid.
#4. Initiative – The final step of resurrection is that we dream again and get back to work, making that dream come true. Being part of Jesus’ Kingdom is the realization of who He is, (King of kings and Lord of lord’s), and who we are (sons of that King who rule and reign with Him)! It is our destiny to find the land with our name on it, and possess it. There is warfare involved.
What about those friends? – I hold them tenderly in my heart with an eye to the Lord regarding my role to intercede and intervene. I know exactly how it feels, and the fruit it produces!
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