“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces HOPE, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:3-5
Paul’s words here in Romans 5 are some of my favorite to reference, but my LEAST favorite to experience.
It just does—there’s no way to sugar coat it.
And if anyone knew about suffering it was Paul. He was doubted, talked about, mocked, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned all in the name of Jesus. All of this to fulfill his call to spread the gospel.
I’ve recently been experiencing a season of spiritual warfare that has been really difficult. During this season I have questioned my call to ministry (including my call to preach as a woman), I’ve felt inadequate as a leader, wife, and mother, and I’ve wondered if God is hearing my prayers.
Me and Jesus have had some long, tearful, conversations filled with me pouring out my heart about my disappointments and hurts. I recognize that the negative thoughts I’m experiencing and the opposition I’m facing is from the enemy. But you know what? Even realizing these are spiritual attacks is evidence of the spiritual growth I’ve experienced over the past few years and the endurance and character God has developed in me.
Knowing you’re experiencing spiritual warfare doesn’t make it easier—but it does change the way you respond. In this tough season I’ve found myself reading and reciting Ephesians 6:10-20 almost daily to remind myself that God has equipped me with His armor. I have the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
Some mornings I have literally sat with my eyes closed visualizing myself puting on this armor and preparing to face my day.
When I remember I’m protected by God and that in Him I have the strength to stand firm against the lies of the enemy, it changes my entire mindset.
Every time I withstand the enemy’s flaming arrows I get a little tougher and a little stronger. That gives me HOPE that I can keep going and FAITH that God is STILL who I know Him to be. His power, His might, His strength, His grace, His mercy, and most importantly His LOVE have already conquered the enemy.
Like Paul, We’ve all been called to spread the Gospel and the enemy doesn’t want to see us succeed. But be encouraged my friends, EVEN in trials and struggles, because God is on our side and He’s preparing us for greater things. We’ve already won! We are more than CONQUERORS! (Romans 8:37)