I never ever thought I will ever be saying this. Troubles and issues are something I do not want to ever experience or come into. Yes (like most people), I like the smooth sailing life with everything provided, every prayer answered, every need meet. You and I know by now that it is never the case.
Being a person striving daily to live the life God has called, within his will and thirsting for his presence, I assumed strongly that issues of life are not for people like me. Oh no! Why should they be?
I am currently reading a book by Max Lucado called ‘Come Thirsty’ and also studying the work book in the same title with a few friends of mine, my understanding of life issues from God’s perspective has been greatly expanded.
It is not something I want to agree to but I needed to agree that, trails really and truly has made me become a better person. Had I not gone through things such as these, I doubt I will be grateful for today.
I reflect on my broken engagement to a man I thought was the love of my life, I thought I was going to literally die out of pain. But that experience thought me to really look into myself and see what I see compared to what God sees. I went from selfishness to depending on God for it all, walking and choosing according to his will for me. Now ending up with the real love of my life :-0
I reflect on the first year of my marriage, trying to understand the plan of God in my marriage, living on finances that sustained us from day to day. This trail made me know my needs from my wants. Skills developed from inside of me I never knew existed. Humility and submission to my husband and my home developed. 7 years and counting, life is so much better and marriage is just the way I hoped it will be.
I reflect on being part of a local church, where I feel is meant to be the safest place for me. However, I experienced issues, being the subject of gossip, back-biting and rejection. This taught me to see people as God sees them, and love regardless. It made me realize that Jesus went through all of this but still completed his purpose. I was able to separate what needed to be and apply wisdom and diligence in all relationships.
Through all these trails and many more, I was able to review my flaws: my bad attitude, my irritating behaviours my insubordination, my pride, my sharp (and bad) tongue, my mentality and my mind, my carelessness and nonchalant perspective to things, my arrogance and sometimes harmful ways.
The book of Isaiah 48 and in verses 10 and 11 (NCV) says
‘I have made you pure, but not by fire, as silver is made pure. I have purified you by giving you troubles. I do this for myself, for my own sake. I will not let people speak evil against me and I will not let some god take my glory’
All these trails that you and I go through from time to time are needful according to the scripture above. Think about it; if diamonds, silver and gold can go through some demanding purification process and stages to get to it’s most purified form, how much more you and I?
You may be able to identify yourself in one of these trails or one of the flaws categories, why not reflect on those trials and thank God for them.
And if you are currently going through any trail, relax and check what God is changing in you. Trust me, you will like the end of it and you will be like me today saying;
’Thank you Father for my trails’.
I found this piece during my blog round and reading through it made me reflect on my days of living as a single woman according to God’s Will and I still very strongly agree with what Carolyn McCulley is pointing out here. Read what she has to say below.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me the perennial question about single women and career success:
“I’ve been told by a couple different people lately that I come off as intimidating. Upon further questioning I think it has to do with my work. The Lord has given me some measure of direction, passion and vision for where I am headed, so I’ve been pursuing it with more direction over the last few years. I love what I do. I think that some people see a woman who has a successful career as a woman who is choosing that over marriage.”
You’d have to know this gentle, sweet friend of mine to know why this amused me so much at first. So I asked a few follow-up questions, which confirmed my inkling that the most recent man to tell her this was someone with minimal employment history himself.
Her question was very similar to one that was sent to Candice Watters, who answered it on Boundless in a column called “Successful at Everything But Relationships.” Candice sent me this column and invited feedback, which caused me to think more about it and ultimately write this post. Candice and I are friends and appeared together on a Focus on the Family broadcast about marriage and singleness a few years ago. We share a love for God’s Word, His church, and His people. So I believe our mutual musings on these topics can be helpful because we have different life experiences, yet we are trying to live within the bounds of Scripture. Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to add my thoughts to what Candice counseled.
The question Candice addressed was from a woman who is 34, single, and yet to be asked out by a “marriageable, Christian man.” I’m not sure what her definition of marriageable is, which could be very telling, but that’s another topic for another day. This is what she asked Candice:
I’ve recently had two men approach me in fellowship-that-seemed-to-be-going-somewhere, but everything suddenly stopped when they saw my fully furnished apartment, heard that my car is paid for, and heard about my future schooling and vacation plans. Then each of them backed away. I actually thought they would be interested in the fact that I have a life.
Both men have degrees but no jobs at this time. Both are still great friends, but no relationship seems to be in the future. They all but said to me, “I can’t provide for you; you don’t need me…” The notion that I don’t need a husband couldn’t be further from the truth.
How can I continue to enjoy my hard-earned income and well-kept home and not scare men away? Can’t my income and assets be seen as a modern day dowry?
I’m going to assume that this woman didn’t relate her success in an obnoxious, bragging manner because she retained the friendships of these men. Therefore, I’m going to focus on the fact that these two men are presumably also in their early 30s … and jobless. This is where the focus needs to be, not on the single woman. These brothers need whatever counseling, networking, and professional mentoring their fellow church members can offer to help them become employed. They also need to understand that they should not be intimidated by whatever gifts, capacities, or assets the Lord might give their future wives. It’s not a competition, my friends! Should you select such a hard-working woman as your wife, all those admirable qualities get to be part of your team!
We also need a reset on our modern understanding of productivity. As I research my current book project on women, work, and the gospel, I’m struck by how little we discuss some of the most obvious passages about women’s work in the Bible. Childbearing is definitely a major component of the dominion mandate given in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” But it has only been within the last 200 years that we have separated other forms of productivity and industry away from the household and its child-rearing activities. For most of history, women worked very hard at two important tasks in addition to bearing children: providing food and textiles. These were not shopping expeditions. These were complex tasks that involved much skill and many people, often providing various amounts of household income in addition to whatever the family needed for its own consumption.
Unlike today’s more child-oriented schedules, families in earlier eras were oriented toward adult work. They involved their children from very early ages in the tasks required to generate household income, be it working in the family store, farm, or trade. It was only after the Industrial Revolution that the U.S. Census decided to stop measuring household wealth in favor of male wage-earner income and unhelpfully classified wives and children as “dependents.” Due to this and other factors, within a few decades, the home shifted from a place of productivity to a place of consumption.
It is through the lens of our modern experience of work and home that we can read the Bible. But let’s set that aside and consider the example of Ruth. Boaz only had two pieces of information about Ruth to form his high opinion of her: 1) that a Moabitess had given up her family and her gods to follow the God of her bereft mother-in-law; and 2) that she was a hard worker.
And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” (Ruth 2:4-7)
Like Ruth, this is the reputation we should seek as single women. We should be known as those who seek the Lord and glorify Him in our labors. In fact, this is the same commendation that concludes the book of wisdom:
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:30-31, emphasis added)
As I’ve written in previous posts, the challenge in our current culture is not to get swept up in the modern concept of career, which is less about serving others and glorifying God than it is about maximizing one’s status and profile. Because that’s the default setting for our times, that may be one of the reasons that single men hear my friend’s love for her job as choosing career over family.
May I appeal that we stop making assumptions and start asking questions of each other? The Proverbs 31 woman’s hard work, financial savvy, wise investments, and profitable trading were part of the reason her husband was respected at the city gates where he sits among the elders of the land (v. 23). You want to talk being intimidated by someone? It’s the Proverbs 31 Superwoman who should intimidate us all! But no one is telling her to be less than who God created and gifted her to be. Neither should we do that to one another.
Instead, let’s develop the habit of humbly seeking information. Chances are, single women who are successful now may have already thought through the implications of their choices and how they would adjust to steward new opportunities such as marriage and family. Just because an unmarried, childless woman is fully occupied with her job now does not mean she would make the same choices once she is married and mothering children. You don’t know what her plans are until you ask.
It is good to remember that no one single woman is going to be attractive to (nor attracted to) all the single men she meets. My single friends, I know it’s tempting to survey the men you know and ask why no one pursues you. Sometimes you might glean a helpful insight, but most of the time you are going to hear a lot of personal preferences that only underscore why these men have or will marry other women. And this is a good thing. You really only want to attract the man you are supposed to marry, not a bunch of other women’s husbands. Yes, you are likely to attract several runners-up in the quest to find your husband. But please don’t diminish the skills, passions, and capacities the Lord has given you in order to make yourself fit some arbitrary standard that “all men” find appealing. You are not going to marry “all men.”
Having taken a stand for the hard-working single sister, let me now circle around to my final point. The woman who wrote Boundless described her life in terms of her possessions (a fully furnished apartment, a paid-off car), her entertainment (vacations) and her personal improvement (schooling). What I didn’t hear was how she was investing in others, including her church. Perhaps her male friends didn’t hear that, either, and unsure of how she might invest in them, they backed off.
In conclusion I echo what Candice counseled her: ”You have nothing that you’ve not been given (Romans 11:33-36) — remind yourself of that, humble yourself before God and ask Him to make you a good steward of His good gifts, and offer them back to Him in service. Ask Him to show you how you can serve others and not just accumulate more.”
(Do you have a perspective to share or a question to ask about your work experience? I’m interested in hearing from you. I may not be able to respond to everyone, but I want to make sure I’m considering the topic of women, work and the gospel from a variety of perspectives and experiences. Please send me an email with your thoughts.)
Art Credit: Bill Osborne
I am sure most can relate to this article by John Piper, I know I can. Tuning into church makes one feel that that is the safest place in the whole world, well it should be but it isn’t. Jesus is the safest place in the whole world. My Dad once said to me ‘If Jesus Christ can be betrayed by a kiss, how much more you?’
I read this article and gained more knowledge about the topic, I hope it ministers to you.
Last Sunday’s message struck a chord with many when I spoke of Christian friends letting you down. I argued that sometimes they forsake you never to return — like Demas. He loved “the present world,” and so abandoned the great apostle who craved the Lord’s appearing more than he craved the world (2 Timothy 4:8).
And, even more relevant, we saw that many friends let you down but can and should remain your friends and your partners in ministry. Paul said that nobody from his team or from the church in Rome showed up to stand by him at his trial (2 Timothy 4:16). Nobody. Not Luke or Eubulus or Pudens or Linus or Claudia or any of “the brothers” (2 Timothy 4:21).
Nevertheless Paul graciously includes them with himself in greeting Timothy, and writes, “May it not be charged against them!” (2 Timothy 4:16). Amazing. Beautiful. Their fellowship survived this painful moment of abandonment.
After the sermon one my own partners in ministry, Amanda Knoke, Director of Communications at Bethlehem, pointed me to C. S. Lewis’s wise words on this issue. Here’s what he said to “An American Lady.”
I think what one has to remember when people “hurt” one is that in 99 cases out of a 100 they intended to hurt very much less, or not a all, and are often quite unconscious of the whole thing. I’ve learned this from the cases in which I was the “hurter.” When I have been really wicked and angry and meant to be nasty, the other party never cared or even didn’t notice. On the other hand, when I have found out afterwards that I had deeply hurt someone, it has dearly always been quite unconscious on my part. (C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, Grand Rapids, 1967, 57)
Amanda connected this with Proverbs. 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Yes. And we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who was abandoned by all 11 of his apostles, and was denied by Peter. Then he built the church on them!
We look to Jesus not only because he was the great model of holding onto friends who let him down, but also because he died and rose again to be the joyful bond of broken and restored friendships.
So keep Jesus before your eyes, and pray this into your heart: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8).
Whatever you do, don’t let the failure of your Christian friends become the basis for abandoning the one Friend who never fails.
Source: Desiring God
Art Credit: Bill Osborne