HORSOVSKY TYN, Czech Republic
Pain is necessary for the fulfillment of your purpose.
Those were words I spoke to a small and faith-filled congregation in the Czech Republic. Just weeks before joining my Abante team in Belgium, I heard the same words. “Pain is necessary for the fulfillment of your purpose.” Christine Caine declared this in a conference I attended called Passion, explaining the importance of endurance through hardship and suffering. Her message was one that was powerful, but not one that I was currently walking. I gave her a round of applause, and an “amen” here and there, but did so without the weight of hardship to back it up.
Little did I know, the same truths sowed into me would be the very truths I would need myself and sow weeks later.
Arriving to the Czech Republic brought much expectation and possibility. We had just left Belgium and I awaited the continued adventure, traveling for the next 5 weeks to all the countries, meeting all the people, and declaring all the truths. My appetite was a bit large and didn’t factor in much reality, but it persisted nonetheless. We ventured to Prague, tried the trdelniks (cinnamon sugar dough stuffed with vanilla ice cream), assisted the church with a play they were compiling, and preached on the purpose of pain. Again, I shared these truths without being in a place of hardship. However, the truths I spoke were undoubtable pieces I have desperately held onto as my journey has continued, and as my belief in myself has perpetually wained. In fact, I needed another reminder weeks later.
Janice Darnell, a woman tenured with years of ministry experience, said this with the utmost confidence. She grinned, eyes beaming with hope, and she prayed over me. I can’t say that I wasn’t surprised by what she said. It isn’t the response you expect when you reveal your doubt and insecurity. She made no mistake in what she said, though. This struggle was a necessary and needed experience for what God has purposed for me.
It felt contrary. When I hit spouts of resistance, I assume I must be doing something wrong. You see, my mind floods with scolding questions: “How are you still stumbling over the same lies for over two years now? You want to be a voice for women and remind them of their identities, but you keep forgetting your own. How could you be qualified to speak to women in areas that you haven’t conquered yourself?” These things are so easy to believe at times, and it feels like they all point to the fact that I am wrong and am doing something wrong. The thoughts raged, and they continue even now. However, its ruts like these that separate wrong from hard, my weakness from His strength, my belief from His truth. I am weak, simply put, but I believe this is the place Jesus wants me to remain.
I don’t believe Jesus enjoys suffering, but I think He loves me enough to let me endure it.
It is in the midst of a storm that my source is exposed; the source of my performance, confidence, and belief. Have I lost the truths Jesus has planted in me over the years? No, these battles are just hard, and they are hard on purpose. In these last few weeks, my source has been myself. I would hear the condemning questions and answer back with fierce defiance. I was stronger and I used logic in attempts to defy them. I would quote scriptures and work harder to remind myself of the truth. However, the last thing I did was get down on my knees, sit at His feet, and ask — “Jesus, what do you think about me? I am so anxious and fearful. What is true in this situation? What can I hold onto when everything around me is shaken?”
I was using my own opinion of myself to carry my confidence. While confidence is a good thing, it isn’t enough by itself. It is so easily persuaded to condemn rather than to encourage. I was trying to let the approval of other people affirm me and remind me that I am worthy. This too failed me. People are people, and it isn’t their responsibility to tell me who I am and remind me that I am enough, though having safe people to call out what is true is beautiful and needed. My source couldn’t be anything external. In fact, it couldn’t even rest on myself. Before I began my day, I had to rely on what Jesus had to say to me. I needed it. It was the only thing that remained. It was the only thing that could not be shaken, and I believe that is the whole point.
This battle has not ended. Just last night I was plagued with fear of self worth, and I tossed and turned throughout the night. However, when I woke up, I had to remember what never changes. I may be a mess and completely inadequate, but in the end, this is true. My present placement only magnifies God’s greatness in choosing me. He chose me as a mess and He chooses me still. Therefore, I have to practice throwing my opinion out the window and embrace the Lord’s. “What do you say about me? Will you help me do this job? I feel so inadequate doing this. Will you use the skills I have?” And the Lord is faithful to reassure me with truth that can be depended on when the flood inevitably comes.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4
If you are facing a battle like I am, know there is purpose in our pain. Jesus loves us enough to let us endure our difficulty. James said it well when he said “the testing of our faith produces perseverance.” It is only through resistance that we can develop endurance and grow. Please be comforted knowing He loves us enough to grow us. And if you’re anything like me, you may need to get on your knees, sit at His feet and ask the Lord to remind you of that. I forget so often, but He is so faithful to meet me and remind me of what cannot be shaken. He is faithful to do the same in you, too.