James A. Washington

There is a perception (right or wrong) in our faith that our suffering is an integral part of God’s plan to ready us for the struggle of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Many believe that suffering in some ways is a prerequisite for strengthening one’s spiritual muscle. I think it is more akin to gaining testimony than anything else.

We all know how hard it is to respect the opinion of someone who has led the so-called charmed life. It’s hard, if not impossible, to listen to someone talk with authority about things they’ve never seen or places they’ve never been.

God teaches in a manner few of us will ever truly understand. I honestly believe that when He chooses you, when it’s your time, He has a unique way of communicating who’s really in charge. And it ain’t you.

When God is actually talking to you, I believe you know it. It may not be something you or I want to hear. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11.

We are all in training to fight in God’s war. Whether being forged in a fiery furnace or stuck in a tailspin of perceived despair and hopelessness, each one of us is being battle-tested in anticipation that one day we will be called to arms. This struggle, these experiences, bring about a spiritual wisdom that from a spiritual perspective  must be shared. It must be.

When you finally realize the one trying to tell you something is God, then a wondrous thing begins to happen. You listen more intently and learn more eagerly. The possibilities seem endless. The mind says, “Tell me more.” The spirit says, “Thank you, Jesus.” At that very moment, God lets us know we’re able to withstand, overcome, rise above and win the battle of carrying the message of salvation. At that moment, we move from being in the classroom to being on the battlefield where Satan is playing for keeps.

You remember those days back in school when you actually studied and were prepared for the big test? Confidence oozed from you. When God has been the lesson planner, the study partner and the instructor, it doesn’t matter what Satan wants.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12.

Our job then is to recognize and represent, to recognize that the hell we’re going through is not without purpose.

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