There is no testimony I have heard that has not included these three things, and I don’t think I have ever been truly led by a wise person who had not experienced at least one of these things.
There is a big difference between reading about God’s unending faithfulness and actually feeling that in your everyday life. With a world that has largely decided to turn its back on the concept of an all-powerful God, it’s also difficult not to find yourself questioning whether you even believe in the foundations of your faith.
Then, when guilt and shame creep in over the times you’ve given in to temptations and done stuff you majorly regret, even stuff that you know is wrong but don’t particularly regret, it’s easy to decide that God will not want anything to do with you, or that you no longer fit the role of ‘Christian Girl’.
The first thing that is so important to understand is that you are no less of a godly woman, and no less of a warrior in your faith for experiencing doubt, disbelief and disgrace. It is a part of your walk with God.
I know from my own personal experience that when you start to experience these sorts of things it’s easy to walk away and to forget that once upon a time you believed in a love bigger than any human could ever comprehend. But I also know that, after a while, you’ll feel a little bit like you’ve lost something really precious and peaceful, in the middle of a very loud world!
Each of us experience doubt; the times you feel like God is just not there, not talking to you, and not listening to you. But in these times, it’s essential to remember that God’s presence is not always a feeling.
Sometimes it is a tiny bit of strength through a tough day, a piece of wisdom in a difficult conversation, a moment of peace in terrible situations that never seem to stop.
There is also something to be said for unyielding faith; for making a decision to keep praying and keep moving forward in the face of doubts. God loves it when we persevere!
Disbelief can often put a (big) spanner in the works, but sometimes all you need to do is chat to someone you know is wiser than you, at church or home or wherever you can find someone, to answer the questions you may have. Equally, studying God’s word, asking for his guidance, or perhaps just saying “God I don’t know the answer to this, but I’m going to choose to trust that you know and you have it in hand” can be great at tackling disbelief!
Finally, reminding yourself of past sins can rack up this arsenal of guilt which, if not checked, will just annihilate any self-esteem you have. 1 Corinthians 13 v 5 tells us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing”.
Asking God to forgive us immediately wipes the slate clean but sometimes that is a lot easier said than felt. Choosing to acknowledge that something was a mistake, and then in turn acknowledging its ‘forgiven’ status and choosing to move on from it is the best thing you can do for yourself. Beating yourself up for a long time over sins of the past is the worst.
Doubt, disbelief and disgrace all have lessons to teach us but I believe in a God who is desperate to see girls grow in to strong and wise women and walking away from these three things will take us one step closer to becoming what he created us to be!