The Power of Your Testimony
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect," 1 Peter 3:15
Many of you know a lot about me. Many of you know that I am the oldest of three children, the only girl, that I have graduated and received my bachelors and masters degrees. Many of you know that I moved back home to South Carolina after long professing that I would never come back. Many of you know a lot about me because I have shared my story in some way with you all. But have you shared your own?
In the last 21 months of being back here, I have experienced some of the most deep cut pains a person can ever feel. I have lost my health, lost loves, lost friends, family, and last week lost my earthly father. My spirit has seemed nearly crushed, trampled upon and defeated. I have experienced true heart break and losses to the point that I have felt like I could not go on any longer. This Wednesday and even this very morning as I struggled to sleep I felt the deepest pains I have ever known. But sitting here in Barnes and Noble, God laid on my heart to share my testimony. How I have gone from having nothing–a life without Him–to tremendous earthly and physical losses, to now grasping for the peace and comfort I so earnestly desire. My heart is broken, my spirit battered, and my body is weak. But God sees fit that through all of the things that have plagued me that I share my story with you all. In the verse above, the author says that we must always be prepared to make a defense of our hope.
I defend my hope in the midst of so much loss because I know that God is real. That even now as I cry I know He is going to change my situation, heal my heart, and deliver me and my family. During these last two weeks and as my dad's birthday approaches next Friday, I have seen some of the most horrific displays of guilt in the actions of my family and the most pure form of love as my dad mustered up his last bit of strength to give my mom one last kiss before he died. I hurt in ways no one can understand but I know that it will soon fade because God promises to carry my burdens. Even as I write now, all the tears I struggled to hide are now flowing because I earnestly know that I needed to share. I have endured many things, and yes I know there are people that have gone through much more, but knowing that I overcome through Christ, that I have already won may help you or someone believe in the power of God.
I learned that I heal through helping others heal. I healed from not loving myself through understanding the love my dad had for me all of my life. Some of the things that happened during my childhood caused me to suppress everything from before that time–including all the good, the love, and affection I once knew, and in turn caused me to hate myself. Understanding my dad allowed me to see that I am very much his daughter as we encountered some of the same things and think the same. No one will understand how much I miss him, because it was only in his death that I really got to know him. I hurt so badly but because God carries our burdens I can rest assured that God will carry this and I can relax in knowing that my daddy's love will always remain within me.
I found two scriptures that helped me today. "Therefore, never be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, his prisoner. Instead, by God's power, join me in suffering for the sake of the gospel." 2 Timothy 1:8 I know that my sufferings are not in vain. I know that the things I have endured and will endure in the future are not without cause because God has already redeemed me. Many of you know that I have had stresses imposed on me at work since I moved back here–even while dealing with health problems, but even yet more problems caused since my dad became ill. But by the confession of my faith, I know God has already fixed these things. I am not ashamed any longer of things I have gone through because I have been freed by the Holy Spirit. My faith and the power of God has freed me from the bondage of guilt, shame, and pain. We are not to be ashamed of God. Today, even today, marks the remembrance of Christ's own crucifixion, the day He died to give us that freedom. We suffer for the sake of the gospel and the Good News, for the sake of God's power manifesting through our suffering, the His provision of deliverance and whatever we ask Him in prayer.
"For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge–because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you." 1 Corinthians 1:5-6 In my heart, I know and believe in Christ's sufferings and what He underwent to reunite us with the Father. I know through my own sufferings and in His revelation that by sharing my trials God is glorified because only He can provide the victory–that same victory He gave to Christ.
I do not know what tomorrow holds. I know that everything that I have gone through in my life is for a reason, obviously greater than I can fathom or understand because who willingly wants to suffer? But remembering what Christ endured for me, sharing my own testimony takes "me" out of the situation and uses my hurts to help someone else. Taking myself out of it allows God that room to work in and through me. I see these things as Christ said in Luke 21:13–"It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony." I can only hope God grants to me a mere portion of the grace He gave to the apostles (Acts 4:33) and that you will do the same. Use your testimony to save someone else; allow God to work through your life–every aspect of it.
"Fight the good fight for the Christian faith. Take hold of everlasting life to which you were called and about which you made a good testimony in front of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12