How God Equips You to Serve

I thought this chapter in Dear Sister was so appropriate for the "Experiences" section of SHAPE that I wanted to take some notes here for future reference:

. . .I would like to explain a little why God leads us through times of waiting for answers to our prayers, testing of our faith and struggles from within and around us.

It's for our personal growth as Christians. If God would fulfill our prayers and expectations and give us a smooth life without any adversities, we would forever remain weak, immature Christians. As much as physical exercise is vital for a small child to learn how to sit, stand, and walk, we as believers need spiritual exercise to develop in our Christian lives.

The more we are forced by circumstances to learn to trust God and overcome adversities, the more our faith grows and the more Christlike we become.

(She encourages reading the story of Joseph from Genesis 37 on - how cool that I will studying this with Kim, Rachel, and Lisa in July!)

. . .count how many struggles he faces. He was misunderstood and hated by his brothers, thrown in a well, sold as a slave to Egypt, separated from his family, lived as a Hebrew among idol worshippers, falsely accused, imprisoned for many years and forgotten by the royal official who could have helped him get out.

. . .I am certain there were hundreds of smaller [struggles] Joseph faced daily in his heart . . .wondering if his father, mother, and brothers are still alive and if they ever found out the real reason for his disappearance . . .wondering why God had not rescued him , answered his prayers or fulfilled the dreams.

God used each of these obstacles in Joseph's life to help him grow not only in his faith, endurance, and ability to cling to God, but also in his character. Joseph became a man of integrity, faithfulness, forgiveness, obedience, and patience. He learned courage to stand alone, serving and caring for others --instead of wallowing in self-pity--waiting for God's timing.

It's also for equipping us to serve others who face similar circumstances. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 1:3-7:

. . .the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the same comfort which which we ourselves are comforted by God. . .(I didn't quote the whole passage).

This Scripture says that God doesn't leave His children alone in their struggles. He has already prepared someone who faced a similar trial to understand, encourage, comfort, and strengthen us. . .

Even if you find no one else who faces the struggles you go through, you will always have Jesus. He faced all our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), and He bore all our sorrows and afflictions at the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6). His comfort is perfect and His grace sufficient in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As believers, our ministry in the Body of Christ expands with ever victory we win in our battles. Through trials, testing, struggles and adversities are things we would rather avoid --and often complain about--they are the very things that cause us to grow, overcome, and become useful in serving God.

(Dear Sister, p.136-138)
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