Written by: Nikki Laureano
Last night, I was lying in bed listening to the rain drops hit my bedroom window. I found the chaos of a late-night storm extremely peaceful and began to reminisce about how far I have come in my own journey and walk with Christ.
Before I knew who God really was, he was a very small part of my life. And as a result, my struggles were abundant and impossible to deal with on my own. But when I fully surrendered to the Lord and his plans, my life radically changed.
“Oh, the joy I’ve found surrendering my crowns at the feet of the King who surrendered everything… I can lift my voice and say you can have it all, Lord, every part of my world… There is no greater call than giving You my all.” (Have it all by Bethel Music)
When I look back on years prior to that powerful moment of surrender, I see the fingerprints of God woven throughout the big picture moments that make up my life. However, his presence is most apparent during my seasons of deep struggle with trauma, self-worth, and identity. I am so grateful for those seasons because he was preparing my heart for future hardships all along.
When I stopped serving the world and began serving God instead, the world began to persecute me. The enemy definitely does NOT like it when we take steps to deepen our relationship with Christ.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT, emphasis mine)
I recently received an anonymous letter attacking my beliefs and my God-given passions. My initial reaction was anger, confusion, and the immediate need to defend myself. As someone who was bullied in high school, receiving a letter like this brought up many suppressed emotions, and I will be honest, I was stuck for a week or two.
I began revisiting particular words from the letter, repeating them in my head, slowly letting the enemy creep in during my hour of weakness. But then a good friend of mine told me an attack is proof the enemy is confident in your ability to succeed. This gave me such confidence to move forward in my walk with the Lord and once I surrendered the feelings that weighed heavy on my heart, God was able to free me from them.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 NIV)
“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7 NLT)
We will continue to face struggles as we walk with God, because the enemy is always waiting around the corner, but what if we started viewing our struggles as opportunities to hear God’s truth and grow deeper in our faith? How would our lives look?
This week, when you are feeling judged, attacked, or stuck, ask yourself how you can view your struggle as an opportunity to rejoice. And always remember the truth of who you are and WHOSE you are!
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NLT)