Updated: Jun 7, 2021
No one likes to share their struggle while they are going through it, because the emotions are too raw, the details too personal, and the scrutiny and opinion of others are often unbearable. Most people tend to wait until they have overcome a challenge or until their prayers are answered, to then say "look at what the Lord has done for me". I've often criticised this approach, though guilty of it myself, because I feel that it does not offer sufficient help to those experiencing challenges.
It is typical for trials to push persons into isolation, condemnation, confusion and resentment, and some choose to conceal their pain because they believe that maintaining their privacy supersedes any benefit that can be derived from sharing. I often feel compelled to share my struggles while I am going through, so that persons who are enduring their own challenges can see faith in action amid the trial. Certainly, we are not meant to disclose our troubles to anyone who would listen, but rather, we share our difficult experiences to help someone draw closer to Jesus, increase their faith and overcome a struggle. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing (1 Thes 5:11)
Oftentimes my dilemma is determining the best way to be real, helpful and relatable, without spotlighting my problems to an uncaring world. Even so, I feel strongly that we should not hide our struggles and neither should we simply offer unhelpful platitudes. I mean, who said that 'testimonies' are only so defined after a person overcomes? Can't we testify and share about the goodness of God even before we receive the answer? Romans 10:14 says, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” How will they know that God is able to keep and capable to deliver, if we don't tell them.
As a balance between privacy and encouragement I say things like, "a horrible experience" or “a traumatic time”. Though it will never be easy, there will be occasions when I'm compelled to expose myself, just to tell someone else that they aren’t alone. When your gift is encouragement you must be willing to risk ridicule and judgment to help just one person know that you are still standing because of the grace of God. This blog isn’t a public journal, it's a public space of solace and encouragement. I simply want persons to know Jesus, to know that I have never felt abandoned by God and that I have never been without comfort, because Jesus was always by my side.
I don't know of anyone who doesn't love those pore-raising stories of breakthrough that elicit a temporary high of hope. However, when the hype fades away and your ongoing battle begins to weigh on you because you cannot see the promised victory from where you stand, it's at those times that the victory stories become less relevant. It is in those times that one may rather soothing words from a caring friend who says, "listen, I am going through it just like you. We can make it through and it will get better".
I don't suggest that you recklessly broadcast your troubles, but I am convinced that when you choose to share your challenges, it is less about broadcasting a weakness and more about extolling the might of the Lord your God, who is Lord over your trials and who you trust to deliver you. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “he boasts in his weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on him”.
A few Saturdays ago I placed my hand on my keyboard with every intention to write on a particular topic for that Sunday’s article. However, my heart hijacked my mind and my errant fingers began to type words that poured from my soul. So, I allowed Holy Spirit to do His thing, finished the first draft and then left home for an appointment, expecting to return home even happier than when I left. Instead, I received the most devastating news and returned home broken and in tears. That night, despite my broken heart, I opened my laptop to refine and finish the piece. Every fibre of my being wanted to fall apart, but instead I placed my heartache in God's hands and shared with the world that they should too.
There is so much value in sharing and helping others, particularly when we offer our own experiences in solidarity with a brother or sister, before we receive the desired outcome. Yes, those with whom we share get to see us believe and stay strong in the Lord, before we are delivered; they get to see that people of strong faith struggle too.
So I must tell the man/woman who is waiting for a spouse that I was there; the converted Christian struggling with fornication that I was there; and the married woman who longs for a child but has nursed herself back to strength after multiple negative pregnancy tests or miscarriages, that I am there. I want to offer encouragement and comfort that God brought me through and is keeping me strong through it all. I've cried yes, I bawl my eyes out in those difficult times, but I trust God so much that I never second-guess Him, am never mad at Him and continue to trust Him the harder things become.
I am just like you and when I write about, talk about and occasionally preach about God, it is because I can wholeheartedly, unreservedly and valorously testify of His character of goodness that sustains and strengthens us through every struggle.