“God rewards all growth with pruning.”
“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.”
–Hebrews 10:32-34 ESV
I know less now about the mysteries of God than I did as a Bible college student—luxuriating in the company of the enlightened elite. I used to think our stories would resolve nicely, like a Golden Book or an After School Special, but now I realize life is more like a Coen brothers’ movie: sometimes resolution takes patience.
What I also know more certainly now is that God is good, regardless of our circumstances. I’ve worshipped several variants of Jesus—the taskmaster, the legalist, the libertarian, the acquaintance. It wasn’t until I accepted that Jesus and God the good father are one in the same deity that I worshipped the true Jesus: the one who calls me daughter.
When I interact with this Jesus, I understand that trials rouse growth; waiting cultivates faith; silence begets listening. After all, when troubling circumstances arise, many of us merely perceive the tempest, the torment, the inaudible God.
If we’re called God’s children and we receive his inheritance, then we are heirs to the promise not only of his salvation but of his kingdom. Jesus teaches us to pray for this kingdom in the “Our Father”: His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit invites us to live in a restored reality: what was lost in the fall can be redeemed on earth. Within this kingdom, we get to lead by his spirit. In this kingdom, we are not meant to be trampled over by others or by our challenges.
When we focus on true worship—the kind of communication that gives God what’s really on our minds while allowing him to speak what’s on his—God brings near to us people who are similarly struggling. What he has imparted to us for our healing is the balm we give to others for their health. It’s a holy metamorphosis: our enlightenment invites tribulations, but the trials birth in us compassion. Our compassion ignites our mission.
If we’re willing to see our setbacks through, we enter into the fullness of our salvation: we govern in the kingdom God has already bequeathed to us.
I believe the greatest obstacle to entering into this God-given kingdom is ourselves. If we accept—and not just flippantly quote—that in all circumstances God works for our good, then our perspectives and our perseverance will improve. Instead, too many of us allow fear to trample our destinies; we quiet our potential before it’s given voice simply because our hopes didn’t work out according to our timelines.
This sabotage must stop.
"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward." -Hebrews 10:35
My call to women in the church is to stand: take what is already yours. In Christ, you are an overcomer; in Christ, you have victory over your weakness; in Christ, you are bold and humble; in Christ, you can discern his will for your life; in Christ, you can dream bigger; in Christ, you can expect the end result—your very soul—to be better; in Christ, your perspective broadens so you understand God is with you to not merely accomplish the task, but also to refine your character.
Women of God, do not hide behind your fear, your frustration, your impatience. Instead, come out from your hiding places and look up. The God of your destiny waits for you. I’ve heard it said that the fourth man did not come out of the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because he’s still there, waiting for you. He may allow you to face bravely the furnace, but he won’t leave you there alone; the fire will not consume you.
Francis Frangipane speaks this to you:
Rise up, my friend, my sister, for our good father has already given us our inheritance of strength. When we pray, let’s believe. When we go forward, let’s do so with a holy fire. May we remember that we fight not from our flesh, but through the living spirit. May we listen for his voice and obey the call he sets within us. Yours won’t look like mine; neither mine, yours. Let’s stop comparing our stories. Let’s instead pray and battle alongside each other toward our crowning, victorious resolutions.