It’s been awhile, but now I have your attention I will start by saying good afternoon, & I sincerely hope this post finds you well. I have chosen a very strong title for today’s post, but believe me; this is a lot less about shock value and more about truth.
So today I want to look at trials & tribulations; hard times we go through in our Christian walk and their meanings & purposes. Now for the past few months believe it or not I have been going through some serious trials. This is with everything from family to friends and even with my business. For me when this happens, I retreat and everything stops. Almost like I can’t function, I become confused; I doubt God, I can feel sorry for myself, I can take things out on those around me, I become extremely depressed, I disappear – that means no church, no office, no phone, no twitter or facebook – nothing.
This time however it was so bad I was forced to spend time with God & question Him. I spent my time not in my office, but at home in the word of God. Today I want to share with you as openly as I possibly can what God has taught me and some of the things I experienced over the last few weeks.
If you have read any of my previous post you will be aware of some of my past and present struggles as well as some of the amazing things God has done in my life over the past few years. First hand I can tell you that God is as real as it gets, there is nothing too great for Him and nothing He cannot do. He literally turned my life around, from a life of sexual immorality, depression & drug abuse, to a life of fruitfulness and hope. I wish I could say that is the end, but it’s just the beginning as this year has taught me (I can only laugh).
So for those of you who don’t know I run my own business in London, an advertising company. For the purpose of today’s post I will share with you some of the troubles I have experienced in direct relation to this, but I want you to apply it to any situation you may be facing and know that our God saves with love and purpose. So when this year began I was full of high hopes, business was booming and we had a new client come on board – one of the UK’s largest political parties became one of my clients. Fantastic right? I’ve finally made it I thought, let the money roll in, let’s start looking online for the latest Benz (smiles). Little did I know what was about to happen. Now let me tell you openly although I love God, at times I love Him on my terms not His. What do I mean by this? There are things I would not want to let go of, and I would always say “God understands”, never holding myself accountable. This could be anything from smoking (yes I smoked for 10 years), to a relationship I know is not godly, and does not glorify God. In my heart I never wanted to give these things up, although I would pray and say with words “Lord remove these addictions, help me with lust, help me with white lies”, I would pray these things without my heart truly welcoming the change. At times even whilst praying my mind would wonder to thoughts of what I would wear on my next date or that I need to get to the shop before it closes and make sure I have my cigarettes. I knew these things were not fruitful, but was so used to being wooed by God’s loving grace that I knew my sins were covered, but the question is; “Can grace continue to abound?”
So let me tell you about the trials that ensued, and how I was forced into submission. That’s right forced into submission by the world about my feet crumbling.
As I’ve said business was great, I was puffed up on my own success, I had God with me as He always is, but I did not want to honour Him in all that I did. Let me just tell you, that whatever you think you have done or achieved, know that you would not have it without God – none of it.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
New International Version (NIV)
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[
God chooses to lift us up and elevate us to levels of success, yes – so that you may be blessed, but first so that He may be glorified and He will not share His glory with any god or man. His glory is His alone. He has chosen us to be living testimonies of His grace and power, He takes us from nothing and makes us something. It is not by the measure of our own hand or strength, but by His choosing and His grace.
Let me tell you now He can strip you in 1 day and show you He is God. For me within 3 days, what seemed like security I had built for myself was thrown into chaos. It began a few month’s ago with a knock on my door, I opened it and guess who it was, debt collectors (I’m actually laughing now). It was a Tuesday, the man at the door mentioned a name of someone he believed resided at my address. I quickly explained that the person did not live there and kindly gave the man at the door my full name as reference to this fact. I closed the door and went back into my house and sat watching television. 5 minutes later the same man knocked on the door again, I thought it was odd, but just opened my front door again thinking he must have forgotten something. He then explained that his records showed I also had an outstanding debt against my name. In panic I just slammed my front door in his face and went to hide. I then sat there thinking Ferai, why on earth did you give them your name? Long story short I didn’t really have the money but had to find it, I wasn’t thrown off & just thought I will juggle a few bills and pay my rent a few days late, simple right? Not so much.
That was day 1, still not knowing what was happening, I went into my office the next day (always the first one in), and as I checked through the mail I saw a court summons. Yes a court summons, one of my clients from last year had decided to sue me – wait for it, for interest of just over £1000 a day until the hearing, as they felt they did not get the response they should have from a marketing campaign we had done for them. At that point I thought to myself, this is going to be one of those weeks, but I can beat anything, or at least I thought still believing in my own strength. I went straight to my solicitors, but again that costs money right? So you can see where I’m going with this now. That was the end of day 2.
Day 3, I went into my office again, positive and reassured of my strength and ability to overcome any obstacle. By this point my lease payment for my office was 6 days late, but I thought nothing of it and planned to pay the very next day. Then guess what a debt collector turned up at my office. That’s right, with people working, I think this has to be one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me. He explained that he was here to collect that months overdue rent along with debt recovery charges or they would start removing possessions. He made very clear, that for every hour he was in my office an extra charge would be added to the bill. So I paid and guess what within 3 days – Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, the security pot I set up for myself was completely wiped out – completely.
It was at that point that I knew this was not normal. I began to pray against devourers and every agent of the enemy etc. Now for me anything I do with my career is done with conviction, I genuinely believe that I am called to be in business amongst other things. I believe 100% that God has ordained this trade for me to put my hands to work. I never look at what other people are doing, never. I spent half my life comparing myself to those in university, those with degrees and the only time I have ever seen success is once I stopped comparing and started doing what came naturally to me. Using the talents God gave me, those placed innately within me and not trying to gain talents that are not mine. This conviction made me turn to God, I do not separate the spiritual and physical, because I know all too well that God teaches us through our physical lives as much as He does through our dreams and and visions.
Let me tell you now, that what happened over these days was God and not devourers, not demons, but our Lord & saviour – don’t worry I will explain. When I began to search the word of God for reasoning and explanations I was lead to the book of Hosea. Chapter 1 begins with the profit Hosea, and God instructing him to take for himself an adulterous wife. Reading this I understood this is what God does when He calls us, He knows our condition and when we first give our lives to Him, this is exactly what He is doing, marrying Himself to a people who will never be perfect.
New International Version (NIV)
Israel Punished and Restored
2 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.
3 Otherwise I will strip her naked
and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert,
turn her into a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.
You see God is a jealous God, I never understood just how jealous until now. He loves us immeasurably, and does not want half of us but our whole entire being. Although I was walking in Christ, I believed it was my own strength that got me there, I had forgotten all of the wonders he had performed in my life and the pit in which He had found me. When I read the opening scripture in chapter 2 I wept and knew immediately what I had done, what I was guilty of. The vilest of sins in God’s eyes is turning away from Him, turning to other Gods instead of Him (Hosea 1 vs 2). When people think of other Gods they think Baal, or idols, but do we think about our careers or our relationships? He chose to marry Himself to the tribe of Israel out of all the nations of the world. In the exact same way, He has married Himself to you and I as believers. He has called us and chosen us to be His own and He will guard us jealously. I will further explain.
New International Version (NIV)
5 Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.
You see it was in this scripture that I understood that God truly knows His people. For me my lovers were the companies I did business with, my clients, Google (making me come up top of every search), my solicitors, my boyfriends & even myself. What God explains here as a clear as day is that He and He alone is the one who provides for us, not anyone else, not the boss you believe promoted you, not that teacher who gave you that grade. The car, the jewelry, all your possessions that you believe your lovers gave to you, not knowing or acknowledging that God has caused them to favour you and with the same command they could despise you. We take pride in so many meaningless things, not knowing that the attitude we have towards these triumphs angers God. As I mentioned He will not share His glory with anyone, not one of your lovers. In this scripture I became aware of God’s complete and total love for my well-being. He is always in control – always. In every situation know He is using it for your good and to teach you. Even as we chase our lovers and false gods, God Himself draws us back to his safely by crushing us so we return to Him. Now that is a strong statement, but have you ever wondered how Gold is purified, or diamonds are created? Gold is put to the fire at high temperatures so that all of the impurities within can be removed. And so with us, God moulds us and shapes us daily, with blessings and with trials. These few verses explain that because God could see that my faith and attention had now gone to other lovers, He reduced me to remind me in love, that He is God until I turn back to Him.
When I was going through these trials where were my lovers? where were the new clients? where were my parents or friends? none of them could save me, not one of them, I was forced to turn to God in repentance and thanks giving and ask Him to take control of the situation.
New International Version (NIV)
9 “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her naked body.
10 So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.
11 I will stop all her celebrations:
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
12 I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
which she said were her pay from her lovers;
I will make them a thicket,
and wild animals will devour them.
13 I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,”
declares the Lord.
At times we are all guilty of chasing our lovers, whether that be a goal, target, new job or career or simply new aspirations. As I have said before God is the most jealous of lovers, one who says if I can’t have you – nobody can. That is no joke, when I realised this, it didn’t make me resentful, it brought me to tears. As someone who hasn’t always felt loved and has been through emotional hurt in my life, it was in that moment I realised that this is the great love people talk about. The jealous love, pure love, fighting love, possessive love. When we stray, just like sheep, God will not even let one go. We are prisoners to the gospel and witnesses to His great and enduring power. Witnesses of His love & amazing power. Witnesses until the end of time.
Many may be wondering, what kind of God is this? What is the point of this?
New International Version (NIV)
God’s Love for Israel
11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
It very simple; the price for sin is death, no grey areas death. A life without Christ is not life, it is bondage. God provides all our needs, but if that providence leads us away from Him, He will remove it. He died for our sins, He shed His blood that we may have life and life in abundance. When the scripture talks about Eygpt, it means the captivity we have all been released from as children of God. Him bringing the Israelite’s out of Egypt is the same of bringing us out of the world and it’s captivity. Reading these few verses we see both God’s frustration with His people, but also His unfailing love. Just like a child who does wrong God disciplines us, and teaches us right from wrong. I love this scripture and this is actually my favourite in the entire Bible. The way the Lord asks “How can I hand you over Israel?”, it shows His full love. What do we expect God to do? Let us continue to sin and perish in hell forever? Hand us over to our own sins and struggles?
How could He do this after all He has done? You see He cannot and will not let us go, just in the same way He gave us the Holy Spirit which will never leave us until the work for which He was sent is completed, God cannot let go until we can stand before Him in righteousness and walk in His ways. Understand God will do whatever it takes to save you from death, even if it means He has to crush you so that oil can truly come out.
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor[b] a door of hope.
There she will respond[c] as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.[d]’
This is the purpose; to take us from our adulterous ways and bring us into His arms. Sometimes you can feel so helpless in your situation, but God is waiting to turn your wilderness into a door of hope. Once we realise that in those times of trials and desperation, He is the way out and turn to Him, we will see His wonders of rescue and restoration performed. He knows us so well it shocks me at times. In this situation I turned to the God who had the power to turn it around and began to seek Him. Let me just tell you, when you feel like you may lose everything I don’t know about you, but I fall on my knees, fasting and seeking the face of the God who saves. From this situation God taught me how much He loves us and also how in control of everything He truly is. Sometimes obedience can feel like being shackled, this situation showed me that our God loves us so much He will never let us go and never give us up no matter what He has to do with us. I give Him everything, my whole entire life to do with as He pleases, my prayer has changed. I thank God for this experience and these trials sent as chords of love, I just pray that whatever He has to do to ensure I see Him in heaven, He will do. Whether He needs to strip me 100 times let Him do it, because do you know what, I don’t want to lose my life, it really isn’t worth it. He is not my enslaving master, but my lover and husband. My body is His as are the works of my hands, for His glory. I’m no longer seeing avoiding sexual immorality and sins as a task, that has changed. I don’t want to fail my lover, my husband, who loves me so fully and purely, I want to find safety and comfort in His arms because there is no where else I would rather be.
On closing, I want to say that no matter what trials you may be going through, no matter what struggles; Jesus loves you with a truly unfailing love, just turn to Him. Do not be angry on beaten-down in defeat, God is waiting to turn your situation around and He is able to do it just like that in the twinkling of an eye.
Until next time, remain blessed xxx