We live in a sin darkened, hard hearted, hateful, willfully ignorant world. We live in the midst of war and pain and hatred. We suffer persecution, whether or not it is emotion or physical. We receive rude comments, we are told hateful things, we are laughed at, all because of one thing…
If you believe in the Gospel of Christ and you are proud to proclaim it, I guarantee that you have experienced some of the things that I listed above. If you haven’t…well, just keep on preaching, it’ll happen. And it’s easy to get discouraged. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to close down this blog and pretended I never made it. Last year and the beginning of this one was…particularly rough. The hate was worse than ever, and although it hasn’t necessarily dulled down, I’m used to it. I woke my mother up one night, crying, because I had found a huge, huge page dedicated to me, myself and I. This blog. A few people around my age had found my blog..and let me tell you, they weren’t my fans. I received threats that night, and was called so many names it would make your head spin and your heart hurt. And that night, I did something that I regret to this day. I closed down my Instagram, which was dedicated to my horse photography but I used the captions for an outreach and to promote this very blog. It had reached 14 thousand followers.
Fourteen thousand followers.
You see, I closed it down because my emotions were just destroyed. But God had given me 14 thousand people on that Instagram and looking back, I wish I had of handled it differently. Instead of being upset over something I knew would eventually happen, I should have smiled. Yes, you heard me right. I should have been happy. I should have thanked God for this opportunity. You see, in this life, we will face trials. God said it. God guaranteed it. But these trials are not given to us by God in order for Him to laugh at us as we scramble around and try to accomplish something. No, that’s not why He allows them. He allows these trials to come in order for us to grow and lean on Him. I didn’t lean on Him that night. Instead, I ran away in tears, afraid of…what? Words? I was fighting for God on that Instagram. I had people tell me how it blessed them. And I deleted it after one bad night, claiming I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Well, God never intended for me to be able to handle it. He knew I couldn’t. But you know what? HE could have.
Although I wish I could go back and handle this differently, I didn’t, and I can’t. So, I chalk it up to a learning experience and I’ve prayed that God continues giving me these experiences so that I can learn to grow. I forgot about His power, His love for me, His grace. I forgot about how He protects me, and I forgot that, as long as I’m doing His will, not my own, He will continue doing so. I forgot that He moves in these bad times, that He could have used me so much if I stood my ground and said…you may scoff at me and call me whatever you want, but I refuse to sit down and cry when I have Him on my side.
I’m not much of a happy go lucky blogger. I don’t really write that many encouraging posts, but here’s one. And this should encourage you more than anything.
God is watching you.
Take this as a warning and an encouragement. Remember this every single day. God sees you. He watches you during every moment, He knows when you are following His will and when you are following your own. He knows when you are fighting for Him and preaching and He knows when you are stepping back, ashamed of Him, refusing to be a witness. He knows all about you. But at that same time…He’s watching you. He’s watching after you. He is protecting you. If you are attempting to follow Him completely, I mean truly trying with every bone in your body, He is protecting you. That doesn’t mean nothing will ever happen to you. Many, many of His disciples have been martyred. But what was Jim Elliot’s prayer? “I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.” What a prayer. Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he said “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” These men are just two out of thousands, but what wonderful examples are they. Both put to death because of their unwavering belief in Jesus Christ, for their love for Him. The Bible itself says in John 15 verse 13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“ and who is a better friend to us than Jesus? God may keep you safe in your country, it may be His will for you to never suffer any kind of physical persecution. The only persecution you face may be online, but it is still tough to live with. I know firsthand. We are not creatures who thrive on hate. I certainly don’t like it. And it is not natural for us to sit there and ignore it. It is hard to be happy when the world is so set on making us unhappy. But you serve God, and He is capable of helping you. He is behind you every step of the way when you are seeking Him. He is supporting you.
Don’t let yourself be discouraged. In this life we will face persecution and trials but take heart, He has overcome the world. The world. He has already won every fight we are ever going to get into. So why do we get so discouraged in the first place?
Since I began studying these older preachers I have been inspired. They have helped me realize even more than there is a whole world out there full of lost sinners, and I simply do not have the time to cry and get upset when I’m being mistreated. Neither do you. So toughen up, put your eyes on the finish line, and do not look back.
Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches over me.