Through The Highs And Lows
The Late Kobe Bryant once said the following: “Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise”
Everything that we encounter in life presents an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to grow closer to God. That’s why James mentioned the following:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
James 1:2-4 MSG
He encourages us to consider our challenges a sheer gift. We have to remember that our faith can be developed by difficulty. Since my last blog, I’ve experienced seasons that consisted of both highs and lows.
August 19, 2020 - Tested positive for COVID
September 17, 2020 - Celebrated 35th Birthday, 4 year brand anniversary and started a new relationship
November 10, 2020 - Lost Job
December 2020 - My Second Christmas Initiative supported eight families during the Holiday Season
As I entered 2021, I had a lot of hope and high expectations but the beginning of the year involved enduring more hardships.
Jan 14, 2020 - Car broke down (Transmission)
Feb 21, 2020 - My girlfriend initiated a break from our relationship
As a result of the issues with my car, relationship and an unstable source of income, I lost 17 pounds. Between dealing with stress, lacking an appetite at times and the inability to maintain my normal workout routine, I watched my weight go from 195 pounds to 178 pounds. This was one of the lowest points in my life, and the only time in my life that I considered giving up on everything. Although my faith was being tested, my faith reminded me that I was on the verge of a turnaround. The enemy fights the hardest when you are getting closer to what God has prepared for you.
March 1, 2021 - Started a new position as a College Advisor
April 2021 - Ended break within my relationship
June 2021 - Got accepted into Liberty University (Master of Divinity)
After dealing with multiple car malfunctions, and catching countless Ubers and Lyfts to and from work, I purchased a new car on July 10, 2021. After watching God turn things around, I had to endure more trials in the month of August.
August 13, 2021 - Lost Job as a College Advisor
August 28, 2021 - Relationship ended
I would’ve never thought that correcting a corrupted view of celibacy would end my relationship. The one who promised to stick beside me left when I needed her the most. Through the highs and lows, you’ll lose people but you’ll always have God. I realized that having complete confidence in God and his plan for your life will help you withstand anything! Even when things seem out of control, God still has complete control of everything. Psalms 139:16 reminds us of the following:
“In your book you wrote about all the days planned for me before any of them had happened.”
This reminds us that God has already wrote the figurative book for your life, and he already knows what will happen in every chapter. Since the enemy can’t change God’s plan for your life, he’ll take away certain resources in an attempt to change your confidence in God. This is honestly the season that I was in, and I questioned why God allowed some of the things that I coveted and needed to be taken away from me?
God revealed to me that he was the ONLY thing that I truly needed, and that a “loss” was only making more room for what he wanted to do. God never removes something from our lives without the intent to replace it with something better. Losing my job opened the door to full time entrepreneurship. Losing my car due to multiple malfunctions provided the opportunity to purchase a newer one.
There are so many things that God wants to do in our lives, but there’s not enough room for him to do it! There are so many things that God wants to remove in our lives, but we don’t fully trust what he’s going to replace it with. God’s next move will always be one of his best moves! We have to learn to trust the author of our story. As much as we want to change the narrative, we have to learn to embrace the narrative that he perfected for us! Remember what Matthew 5:45 says:
“…he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”
This means that each of us will experience a season of sunshine, and none of us are exempt from a storm. Although this seems like a mixture of good and bad news, remember that God will help you grow through every season of your life and gain glory from everything that you encounter!
There’s A Purpose For A Low Season Each season of our lives is attached to a lesson. Whether good or bad, we can learn something from every season that we encounter. Proverbs 16:4 reminds us that God has a plan for everything, and that he eventually works everything together to accomplish his purpose for our lives.
There are things that we ask God for and the difficulties that we face develop what we are asking for. This reminds me of Moses refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and choosing to suffer with the people of God. The Message Translation of Hebrews 11:24-26 mentions the following about Moses:
“By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff. By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going.”
Moses ultimately realized that he would gain more by going through difficulty than an unprincipled and soft life of sin. Most people would’ve done the opposite, and chose the easier path. We have to remember that a painless path isn’t always the best path or the one that leads to what God has perfected for us. That’s one of the reasons that Moses chose a hard life over an easy one.
“He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff.”
He anticipated the payoff and reward connected to the path that involved suffering with God’s people. You can put a numerical price on wealth, but you can’t put a price on some of the lessons learned through suffering. We often ask for strength and God will give us difficulties to develop that strength. When we pray for patience, God will place us in a season or situation that requires patience. When we pray for wisdom, God may give you a problem to solve. Experience will always be one of the best teachers! One definition of the word experience is a skill or knowledge that you gain by doing something.
Sometimes God will allow us to encounter a problem just to show us that we possess the ability to solve them. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that the spirit within us is stronger than anything in the world! We have to remember that difficulty ultimately contributes to our spiritual development. My resilience is a result of God helping me bounce back from disappointment and countless difficulties. That’s honestly the definition of the word, resilience.
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
Without difficulty, I wouldn’t have developed resilience. If we never had to conquer anything, how would we discover that we are more than a conqueror? Adversity is a gift, and we have to use it as an opportunity to grow. I know that we would prefer to live without the pain, but the lessons that we learn from it will contribute to God’s purpose for our lives. God is never caught by surprise when it comes to the circumstances that challenge us and our faith in him.
If God isn’t surprised by the seasons that we have to endure, one may ask - “Why does God allow it?”
“Why do we have to deal with a painful season when he has a plan to prosper us in the end?”
Two reasons are development and demonstration. There’s something that can be developed from the pain and pressure that we encounter as Christians. To be transparent, a lot of my strength came from multiple seasons of struggling. It takes a lot of strength to encounter struggle after struggle and not throw in the towel. Not only did my hardships develop my strength, they also revealed my strength. God will also use difficulties to demonstrate how strong you are! You can overcome anything with God within you and on your side! I’m living proof of this!
Jeremiah 32:17 reminds us that nothing is too hard for God, and he’ll allow us to encounter a hard season to demonstrate this! God can turn ANY situation around at ANY time! I’m living proof of this too!
Deuteronomy 20:4 reminds us that God will fight for us against our enemies, and he’ll allow us to experience battles to demonstrate that he’s a man of his word!
Isaiah 40:29 reminds us that he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. God may allow certain hardships to weaken us to demonstrate that he’s the source of our strength when we become weary.
Two things are always present during the low points of our life: God and the opportunity to grow. Embrace God and your season of growth!
There’s Prosperity After A Low Season
Every season that we encounter has an expiration date, and each storm that we endure eventually runs out of rain. Earlier this year when I found myself at the lowest point of my season, I constantly reminded myself that it’s only up from here, and that Jesus didn’t make the sacrifice on the cross for me to remain in a season of stagnation.
I knew that it was a matter of WHEN God would turn things around not IF he could turn them around. The Message Translation of Romans 8:18 reminds us of the following:
“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.”
Not only does this text reveal that there are good times ahead, it also reminds us that what we encounter during a low season can’t compare to what we’re going to experience in an elevated season. The prosperity that awaits us will always be GREATER than any pain that we have to tolerate. The greatest example of this will always be the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The pain that he endured on the cross will never compare to the joy of giving us unlimited access to salvation.
We have to be mindful that Satan knows scripture and we see him quoting it when he tests Jesus in the wilderness. Matthew 4:5-6 captures the following:
“For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Psalm 91: 11-12 (ERV) - “He will command his angels to protect you wherever you go. Their hands will catch you so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.”
I emphasize this because of his willingness to misuse scripture for his purpose. He realizes that better times are ahead, but wants to keep your focus on the pain that you have to endure prior to prospering. He also wants to convince you that your pain is permanent. We have to remember and realize that the enemy is a liar and incapable of telling the truth. Listen to what Jesus says about Satan in John 8:44 (God’s Word Translation)
“You come from your father, the devil, and you desire to do what your father wants you to do. The devil was a murderer from the beginning. He has never been truthful. He doesn’t know what the truth is. Whenever he tells a lie, he’s doing what comes naturally to him. He’s a liar and the father of lies.”
This is the reason that we have to believe the opposite of what he tells us. The enemy simply does what comes to him to naturally, LIE! So when you’re told that it won’t get better, that’s confirmation that it will. Satan will never tell you the truth, and God will never tell you a lie. The New Living Translation of Numbers 23:19 states the following about God:
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
This reminds us that God has no intention to change or alter the plan that he perfected for your life. So when the enemy misuses scripture, we have to reply like Jesus during his test in the wilderness
“Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:7)
When the enemy acknowledges the hard times that you have to endure, you have to remind him and yourself that they don’t compare to the coming good times. We all have to endure a figurative season of captivity in Babylon before we experience our season of prosperity.
“This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:10-11 NLT
The word process comes before the word prosperity in the dictionary. Whether it’s a coincidence or not, there’s typically a process or a season that we have to endure before we receive everything that God promised us. We can’t lose sight of this in a low season. Reflecting on that part of my season, it was one of the hardest things to keep my focus on. I often asked God, “How much longer…”
“How much longer do I have to suffer?”
“How much longer do I have to live without a stable income”
“How much longer do I have to pray for strength?”
“How much longer do I have to remain patient in the face of overwhelming pressure?”
“How much longer until you show up and do everything that you promised?”
The last question gives us all of the insight that we need. Although we all have to endure a season in Babylon, God will eventually show up and do all of the good things that he promised us. Remember that it’s not a matter of IF he’ll show up, it’s a matter of WHEN he will.
Remember that low seasons never last forever, and a season of elevation is both eventual and inevitable!