2015 has been an amazing year. But the trials I went through (and in some cases still going through) nearly broke me.
But I'm not broken. And I want to share why.
I've resisted writing this post but I recently sensed I needed to alert the Church about a strategy of the enemy right now. I've seen way too much of it this year. Please understand my heart is to warn you to not participate in the schemes of the enemy. I want to share enough so you know what I had to work through and how God came and brought intimacy, protection and blessing.
If you've been a victim of the enemy I pray this encourages you. If you've partnered with the enemy I pray you see the deception.
There are continual consequences in my life because others have chosen to sin. I'm no stranger to trials in ministry so I realize many of the things that I've experienced have been endured by many saints before me. Some of it comes because I am constantly taking back the ground of the enemy so he tries to push back. But this year I saw a distinct pattern – lies being spoken about me.
Maybe you've experienced lies in this way:
- Stories told about things you didn't say or do.
- Truth being twisted just enough to discredit you.
- Explanations that you look bad and make themselves look good.
- A jealous filter that makes them assume incorrect meaning to your actions or words.
- Throwing you “under the bus” to save themselves.
- Sharing a concern about you that doesn't really exist.
Its always harder when lies come from the Church and believers. It's harder yet when it's someone you trusted as a friend. It's confusing when it's someone you don't really know, but not as painful. It doesn't make it any easier when you're completely innocent of the things they accuse you of doing or saying.
It's made me most anxious when the result was going to hinder the effectiveness of my ministry. And even in reading this you may be tempted to think, “There's always two sides to the story.” I get that. I'll have to trust your questions to God.
The truth remains that I've had to work through the wounds in my own soul while remaining silent. I have been encouraged by a few trusted friends and had to reconcile that others have turned away because they believed lies about me. I can only control me. And I choose to walk in the ways of the Lord. That includes being refined by trials, rejoicing in hope and loving all men.
Hearing God's heart has shown me a few important things.
1. He will draw near.
Circumstances like this always lead me closer to the Lord. There is always good that comes from that time! As I prayed about one situation, I remember getting a sense of God's heart that sounded like this: “Oh no, you don't want to slander me … it's going to hurt the ministry of Jesus.” I was less concerned about my personal reputation and more concerned about this person being a pawn in the hands of the enemy. He wanted to steal their blessing. What they were doing was also coming against the work of God, specifically through me. And so I began to pray for God to show them mercy.
Its easy to run to God when you're hurting but harder to hear how God loves the person that hurt you. Complete healing comes when you can believe the latter. It may not come as you expect. We need to let God show us His heart for everyone involved and then respond the way He would respond. To see them as God sees them. If your view of God is that He takes sides then you're mistaken. We must allow God to renew our minds and make it obedient to Christ – who died for all. That person may or may not repent. But in drawing near to God you will be transformed. That is when God can trust you to show you the ugly in others. Because He trusts you to pray for them.
2. He will protect.
Because of some lies spoken about me I was hesitant to reengage with a community I loved. But after some time God brought truth to light to the folks that mattered to me most. I didn't speak out against that person or try to defend myself. I didn't know how far the lies had gone so I couldn't even begin to fix it. Only God could do it. And in some cases it's not “fixed” yet. But I see God's hand of protection even as He shows me how to tighten my inner circle and focus on the eternal things above.
We must know the protection of the Lord so well that we don't care to walk outside of where He is. There is safety under His wings and we must stop and rest in it. Strife will cause you to get out of rest and there is no protection out there on your own. We can't be in a hurry and we must trust that the Lord works all things together for good. And even if He doesn't we will praise the Lord. Because He is in the praises of His people. And that is the safest place to be.
3. He will bless.
In the very area I was hurting God came and blessed me. I was loved by people I didn't know with hospitality, prophetic words, new friendships, opportunities and resources. Even though I was wronged I could still see things in me that needed to be worked out. In the big scheme of things these trials aren't so bad … so I'm glad I let God refine me in the small trial so I'm strengthened for future responsibilities. I've seen this pattern of blessing after an unjust curse so many times now that I almost celebrate a slanderous comment against me. As if to say, “I'm in the position for an upgrade!”
Blessing is a great side effect of this kind of persecution. I've also come to understand that God promotes us in the spirit if we surrender to the process. God will use your circumstance to promote you in revelation and understanding. Sometimes you'll see increased favor with man. You'll most likely get rid of people that couldn't go with you to the next blessed season of your life. Since He uses all things together for good, you can expect it to come to you.
Ultimately we must remember that hurt people, hurt people. That means you shouldn't sin because of sin. Quite possibly that is the determination if you see the victory that was already paid at the cross of Jesus Christ. You are a royal priesthood and a son/daughter of the King. Royalty isn't afraid of repercussions of others because they know they sit in the highest place.
Be not silent, O God of my praise! For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.” Psalm 109:1-4
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