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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Faith, love & forgiveness in the face of adversity...

I am the first to admit that when the going gets tough, my faith can sometimes take a bit of a knock. I'm human... life is difficult... forgive me.

What I was really pleased to discover recently, is that my faith has become so much more concrete and stable. It really is true that the more we invest our lives in God & His work, and the more decisions we allow Him to influence in our lives... the more solid a rock on which we stand. Sounds obvious... but I've seriously doubted that before.
Last week as a house we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of having been burgled. I returned home in the evening, went upstairs... and they fled. Yikes.
In the moment I was panicked and scared of course - I'm pretty sure that is natural.
But the old Becky would have questioned everything after that. I would have questioned the whole concept of God. My faith was small.
Instead, after an initial shock period of course, I found myself unconcerned with the possessions which were lost, and instead thankful for the good that could come from such an event. This is NOT like me. It is great to be able to sit back and see what God has brought out of something like this.
  • For one... I have definitely grown closer to my lovely housemate as we faced something difficult together. There's nothing like a crisis to bring people together. We prayed for our home together, and for the atmosphere to be put right again so that we would no longer feel afraid or vulnerable in our own home. I feel blessed by this and by the opportunity to get involved in each others lives on a deeper level. 
  • Having felt rather lonely for some time here in Essex, I realised that I was not alone at all. In fact, I'm not even close to being alone. Instead I have realised that I am surrounded by loving people who gathered around and helped in so many different ways. From a beautiful Godly couple who came and whisked both my mum and I away late in the evening, and put us up in their home - even laying out homemade pancakes for breakfast and sending follow up messages ever since to check on me. Then to friends who have consistently sent concerned and encouraging messages. My boyfriends mum who has helped practically and in such a generous way. A fellow youth worker who took me out of the house the following evening so that I would not be alone. And then of course my boss and his wife who have provided me with understanding, and time out to collect my thoughts. This is only a small amount of ways that people have blessed me over the last week. The body of Christ is amazing, and as my mum was over for the weekend she has gone away with a really positive image of the church for which I am very thankful. I don't know what I would have done without such a community. 
  • We have had the opportunity to pray for people who are clearly in need, who we don't even know, but who we feel connected to in come strange way. They are receiving so much prayer from so many people - and they don't even know it. In my opinion, they picked a good house.
  • I have also realised the fleetingness of possessions, and their true value - what REALLY matters
  • Friendships have been deeply rooted this week too. I of course do not believe in a God who sends us trials like these... but I believe in a God who shows us compassion in the difficulties and looks to bring the best from them for those who love Him... and there is a particular friendship that God has graciously begun... just at the right timing too. #Typical :-)

What has been made very clear to me is that God is bigger. He can use horrible things and bring forth something beautiful from it. 
As a house we have committed to praying for those men or women who entered our home uninvited. I cannot stop wondering what must be going on in their lives and hearts which has driven them to be spending the Christmas season burgling homes. We have been praying that the things which they have taken, will miraculously be used for something positive. We have prayed that they might come to repentance in a miraculous way. We have been praying that their lives will be turned around and that they might be blessed by our prayers.

Matt 5:44 Tells us - "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".
Romans 12:14 says - "Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them".
And so we will.
We are fortunate. We have clearly much more to be thankful for that they do, and for that I thank God, but cannot help feeling a little guilty and sad for the many people out their who's lives are difficult, complicated, and void of love and compassion. And anyway, God has forgiven me many times... surely now the call to forgive others this one time, is nothing in return?!

I am encouraged that my faith can withstand the difficulties in life... and a burglary thrown on top. It is due to my brothers and sisters in Christ holding me up, & so many other lovely people supporting me... but I personally believe that the glory really belongs to God for helping me to delve deeper into His word in the last year and a half, and for providing unlikely people in unlikely places to challenge me and help me grow and strengthen.

It is not what happens to us in life that matters... but how we deal with them... how we choose to perceive them... how we move forward from them... and who with.

Sky Diving, holding snakes, and then this... I feel like I can face the world ;)
But not alone.
Thanks be to God.

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