Your Weaknesses Shape Your Witness to the World

“I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.”Philippians 1:12

Your witness to the world will come out of your weaknesses, not your strengths.

A lot of people have it backwards: They think the world is impressed by Christians’ prosperity. That doesn’t impress the world. They see that everywhere! What impresses non-believers is how believers handle adversity, not prosperity.

Your suffering, not your success, gives you credibility. Your faithfulness, not your fame, earns respect.

The apostle Paul was a pro at using his pain as a witness. He wrote from a prison dungeon in Rome, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (Philippians 1:12).

Paul used his pain to model the message God had given him. While he was chained in prison, he wrote letters to the church that became part of the New Testament.

Paul said, “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4). That includes how you handle pain, failure, defeat, problems, mistakes, sin, and all of the bad things that happen in your life.

It doesn’t take God’s power to handle good; anybody can handle good. It takes God’s power to patiently endure.

The world doesn’t have a good answer for how to endure. But followers of Christ patiently endure suffering, hardship, and trouble of every kind as it’s a way to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus.

Your deepest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt—and your deepest life message will come out of your deepest pain.

In every area of your life where you’ve had pain, you have a testimony. How will you use it to help bring others from despair to fullness of life in Christ?

The Best Use Of Your Deepest Pain

God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:4-5

When you’re going through pain, you can choose to focus on yourself or on other people. When you choose to focus on serving other hurting people, that’s called redemptive suffering. It is the highest and best use of your pain.

No matter what pain you’ve gone through, Jesus wants to redeem your suffering. He doesn’t want it to be wasted! He wants to use it to help other people when they are in pain.

“[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).

Who’s better qualified to help a struggling veteran than somebody who’s been a struggling veteran? Who’s better qualified to help someone recovering from a prescription drug addiction than somebody who has recovered from a prescription drug addiction? Who could better help someone who is suffering from a chronic illness than someone who has also suffered in the same way?

Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest pain. If you’ll be honest with God, others, and yourself about whatever struggle you’ve faced, then that struggle will become your ministry.

Sharing your strengths doesn’t make you feel any closer to someone. But when you share the experiences that have led you to surrender to God and rely on his strength, then you’ll be connected to others more deeply than you can imagine. Why? Because when you—as a broken person—share with other broken people how God has restored you, you’re not just sharing something you have in common. You’re sharing hope that other people can also experience redemption through Jesus Christ.

Sharing your pain helps you and the people around you to grow in Christ. Using your pain to serve others is a form of ministry.

Don’t waste your pain. Let God use it for your greatest ministry.

Let Your Pain Draw You Closer To Others

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2

Suffering changes you. It can turn you away from self-centeredness and toward caring more about other people in pain.

One important way you can use your pain for good is to draw closer to others. If you’re honest about the things that are causing you pain, then it will deepen your love and mature your relationships and sense of community. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable, then it will help you build authentic relationships.

There’s a sad statistic that about a third of marriages end up in divorce after the loss of a child. People all grieve differently, and it can drive a couple apart.

The deeper the pain, the fewer words you use.

The Bible says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

You don’t have to try to cheer people up when they’re grieving. Instead, try to enter into their grief and feel it with them. Sharing in someone’s pain leads to building fellowship, becoming closer to other people, and strengthening relationships.

Let Your Pain Draw You Nearer To God

We were really crushed and overwhelmed . . . and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

When anything painful happens to you, you’ve got a choice: You can run to God, or you can run from God.

If you’re running away from God, what are you running to? Who could help you more in your pain than God?

How do you draw closer to God when you’re in pain? The first thing you do is tell him exactly how you feel. It’s what you naturally do when you see a disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake and cry out, “Oh my God!”

Even if you cry out, “God, I don’t like this. I’m mad. I’m upset,” that’s still drawing close to God in prayer. It’s called the prayer of lament.

You need to learn how to worship God in all the phases of grief. In other words, you use prayer to express shock, to unload your sorrow, and to struggle with your emotions. You surrender your life to God when you don’t know which way to turn. You ask God to use pain for good in your life. You don’t suppress any emotion. You tell God exactly what you’re feeling and draw near to him.

You do what Paul did in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10: “We were really crushed and overwhelmed . . . and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us” .

I have seen so many people transformed by the process of learning to worship, trust, and draw close to God when they’re in pain. They have learned that God is never closer to you than when you are brokenhearted.

Don’t waste your pain. Let it cause you to turn to God, spend more time with him and his Word, and be reminded of his promises to you.

Heal Your Hurt With Grace

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

How do you let go of the hurt in your life? You heal it with grace.

When you heal a hurt with grace, it doesn’t just mean you let someone off the hook. You forgive the person who hurt you, but you also change the way you talk to them. You stop being so judgmental and start being more gracious in your speech.

As a Christian, everything you say should be kind. This is getting harder and harder in the world that we live in today. But it applies to everyone—even that person with a different political opinion.

“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:6).

Often the person who hurts you is carrying a lot of guilt. Hurt people hurt people. If you want to stop the cycle of hurt, then you’ve got to be willing to show some grace. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.

You will never have to forgive anybody more than God has already forgiven you. One of the reasons why so many people have a hard time letting go and forgiving is because they’ve never really felt fully forgiven themselves.

When you remember how much God has forgiven you, it makes forgiving other people a whole lot easier. You may be thinking that it sure doesn’t feel easy. Maybe you feel like you don’t have the strength, energy, or power to forgive someone that hurt you deeply. You think you’re too weak.

As long as you are trying to do something on your own power, you are going to fail. But once you realize you’re weak and you can’t do it on your own, you’re going to depend on God. God says, “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It’s okay to admit that you don’t think you can forgive or let something go. Sometimes you won’t have the strength to forgive on your own. All you have to do is humble yourself and ask for God’s grace.

Don’t Let Bitterness Wear You Down

“A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.” Proverbs 27:3

Any time you breathe bitterness, you suffocate your spirit.

Bitterness doesn’t just choke out your happiness and your healthy emotions. It also strangles your spirit. When you have bitterness in your heart, you can’t breathe spiritually.

Bitterness will only weigh you down and depress your spirit. Proverbs 27:3 says, “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier”.

Choosing bitterness is like choosing to carry around a huge weight with you everywhere you go, all the time. It’s an unnecessary load, but you’ve made the choice to bear it.

Sometimes you may think you can hurt the person who hurt you by holding on to what happened—that by staying mad, the other person will become miserable.

But bitterness is a worthless weapon. It doesn’t hurt the other person. It only makes youmiserable.

The person that hurt you is probably not even aware that you’re thinking about them all the time. Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the person that hurt you. But that person is out there somewhere, eating a steak dinner and living their best life. They’re not even thinking about you! They’ve already moved on with their life. It’ll be a waste of your time to keep trying to use bitterness as a weapon. You’re only going to hurt yourself.

You may have been hurt by someone a long time ago, and I’m sorry you had to experience that pain. But here’s the good news: They can’t hurt you anymore! The only way they can continue to hurt you is if you choose to hold on to the hurt and replay it over and over in your mind. The Bible says in Job 18:4, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger”.

You don’t have to hurt anymore. Let go of your hurt. Surrender it to God. When you do, you’ll breathe in the fresh, sweet air of freedom and be able to move forward with purpose.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Give Satan A Foothold

Anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27

In every quarrel, an unseen spiritual war is going on behind the scenes.

At the surface, a quarrel may seem minor. You may think you’re arguing about who didn’t take out the garbage or who left their clothes on the floor. But at a deeper level, Satan is trying to create chaos, distractions, and destruction in your relationships. He is behind the scenes, taking every opportunity to produce conflict in your life.

You won’t have peace in your life if you think you’re fighting only with another person. You are fighting against spiritual forces. Satan is not seen, but he is real. He is the source behind all conflict.

Ephesians 4:27 says, “Anger gives a foothold to the devil”. Anger gives Satan something to hold on to in your life. Any time you get angry and use hurtful words, you open the door for Satan to get a foothold in your emotions and create chaos. You can’t have healthy relationships if you have uncontrolled and chaotic emotions.

When you become angry, Satan is at the ready with an arsenal of hurtful words that he plants in your mind. He stokes your pride. He makes you think you must be right or have the last word. He keeps you from seeing or caring about the hurt you’re causing.

How do you fight against that kind of power? You’ve got to resist the devil.

When you realize you’re about to get into a quarrel with someone, be aware that Satan has a plan to upset you. He wants you to be stressed, angry, and hurt. Satan will use any negative emotion in your life to destroy your peace. But you don’t have to let him do that!

“We don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

If you don’t know how Satan schemes, then you will be outwitted time and time again. But now you know that—when you get angry and use hurtful words—you’re giving Satan a foothold in your life and your relationships. So you’ll be able to stop the quarrel before it starts.

The next time you’re tempted to respond in anger, make the choice to speak life and love instead.

Stop Quarrels With Humility And Grace

God is against the proud, but he gives his grace to the humble.’ So give yourselves completely to God.” James 4:6-7

Because of the COVID-19 quarantine, many families have the opportunity to spend more time together. But that also means there is an increased chance they will get on each other’s nerves. Let’s be honest, even when we love someone dearly, constant, close proximity can lead to friction. And it’s often because of pride.

For instance, have you ever been so prideful that you could not compromise on something, even though you knew you should? Have you ever been in an argument with your spouse or a good friend where you knew you were wrong but just couldn’t admit it? Of course you have. We all have! We are full of pride, and that’s why we all have conflict in our lives.

“‘God is against the proud, but he gives his grace to the humble.’ So give yourselves completely to God” (James 4:6-7).

God declares war on pride, ego, arrogance, and selfishness. Any time pride rears its head in your life, you’re on the opposite side of God—and your arms are too short to box with him.

God doesn’t look at pride and just say, “Oh, that’s a little petty.” He openly opposes people who are prideful. God declares war on ego.

You may have already noticed this, but God has a unique way of engineering circumstances that deflate your ego. It’s dangerous to be in opposition to God. When you’re on a collision course with the Creator of the universe, you are going to lose.

If pride causes quarrels, then that means the opposite is true, too. Humility can stop quarrels. The cure for quarrels is humility. Every time you’re humble, you will get along better with your wife, your kids, your friends, your employees, your fellow church members, and your neighbors.

James 4 says God gives grace to the humble. Grace is the power to change. If you want to stop the fighting in your life, then you need grace. And there’s only one way to get grace: Be humble. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourself, and then give yourself completely to God.

Giving yourself completely to God means you’ve surrendered everything to him, including your pride. Humble yourself so that you can experience freedom from quarreling and conflict.

Only God Can Meet All Your Needs

You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”James 4:2

One of the biggest causes of quarreling in your family, with your friends, or at your work is that you expect people to fill needs in your life that only God can fulfill. This is often most obvious in marriage, but it’s true in every relationship. You find people you can trust and who know you well. So you start looking to them to keep you emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.

It’s common for people to get married and think their spouse should and will meet all their needs. After all, you complete each other, right? But that’s just unrealistic, unfair, and only setting you up for massive frustration? Your spouse is not God. Your best friend is not God. Your co-workers are not God. None of them know you like God does. None of them can provide for you like he can. They are broken human beings, just like you!

It’s time to change your expectations so your frustration doesn’t lead to more conflict and quarreling in your relationships.

So, what should you do instead of looking to someone else to fulfill every emotional, spiritual, and physical need you have? You should pray about it.

“You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it” (James 4:2).

When you expect other people to meet your needs instead of God, it leads to frustration. And frustration leads to quarreling. If you’re not praying and asking God to provide for your needs, then you’re going to spend more time quarreling. If you’re not praying about it, you’re fighting over it. You don’t have because you haven’t asked God for it!

If you have a need, don’t look first to your spouse or your friend to fill it. Go to God first. He already knows what you need, and he’s ready to give it to you. You just have to ask.

Who Controls Your Future

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

One of the great fears you face in this life is the fear of the future. You fear for the future of your family, your friends, your job, your community—and everything else in between.

It’s natural. You’re not in control. But that realization should drive you to trust God more deeply.

You might not be in control of your future, but God is. He created the whole universe. If he wanted to, the Lord could just snap it out of existence in a moment. Yet he is working his plan in history. He is moving history to a climax, a destiny. One day Jesus Christ will come back to Earth. Nothing will stop that.

Just as God is working in history to move events toward a particular moment, he will work in your life for a purpose, too—if you’ll let him.

The Bible says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

God’s Word doesn’t say that everything is good. It also doesn’t say that God causes everything. He doesn’t cause war. He doesn’t cause cancer. He doesn’t cause rape, abuse, or molestation. He doesn’t cause evil. People do that. God gives people the freedom to choose. Evil is the price of that freedom.

But the Bible does say that God causes everything to work together for good. He can take the dumb, evil, and bad decisions you’ve made in your life and use them for good if you’ll trust him. Romans 8:28 isn’t a promise for everyone, though. It’s for “those who love God.” It’s for those who trust God and say, “Here, Lord, you take all the broken pieces of my life and put them together.”

This is why, when I read the headlines each day, I don’t worry. Sure, there are a lot of problems in the world today, but God is still in control. God is still moving history to a climax. And God is still moving his people toward his best for them. One day God will work everything out for his purpose.

Because God is in control, you can trust him with everything—including the good, the bad, and the ugly of your life.

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