Category Archives: Stories Of Faith

THE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS

 

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It was eight years ago that I experienced the realness of Jesus in a way that changed me forever. One summer morning the Lord woke me, actually He jolted me out of my sleep during an incredible dream.

I dreamed I was a princess and I was running through a beautiful castle, going from room to room in awe of all the beauty of it. Then suddenly for a really brief moment I became afraid and I hid. But as quickly as the fear came, it left.  I burst out of the hiding place and there I stood looking lovelier than ever in a long, flowing dress.

I awakened suddenly with an image in my mind of me standing there looking like Cinderella with a quizzical look on my face and my heart filled with a sense of wonder. When will my Prince rescue me? Then reality hit me. Oh, it was a dream. Hmmm…What exactly is God trying to speak to me through this dream? As the day went on I received the answer so clearly.

A few hours later the telephone rang. It was my sweet friend Lisa calling after unsuccessfully trying to reach me for several weeks. Lisa was a part of a neighborhood Bible study where I cared for the children of moms who met each week during the school year. It was during the summer break and I hadn’t spoken to her in three months.

That morning over the telephone Lisa asked me how things were going in my life and I shared that we were in the midst of a trial. My husband Michael was self-employed at the time and his business had almost come to a halt. He was delivering pizza to support our family. I was a stay-at-home mom earning money by babysitting and working other small jobs on the side. We were barely scraping by. Our refrigerator was nearly empty, we had no money to buy groceries, and some of our bills were overdue. I was teetering on a fence between fear and faith, but choosing to trust the Lord.

As Lisa and I talked, I told her about the question I heard the Lord asking me the night before.  In my heart, I heard the Lord’s still, small voice. Do you really trust me? At 6 a.m. that morning I had written down my answer. Yes I do, I have no reason not to… Jesus has been so good to me!

I asked Lisa to pray for the Lord to guide us and to provide the jobs Michael and I needed. Lisa’s words were soothing to my soul. “Would you like to come over to help me clean out my big freezer? I’ll give you the excess food in return for helping me.” She cheerfully exclaimed.

My heart leapt with excitement over Lisa’s words. I felt so encouraged and thanked her over and over. She said she would be waiting for me to come over later that evening. I was excited, but I had no idea what was in store for me through the divine appointment God was orchestrating that day…

Visit NBS2GO.com to read the rest of the story.

WALKING BY FAITH TO SEE GOD’S POWER

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As my car was sputtering down the road, barely moving at the speed of twenty-something miles per hour, I felt unsafe driving. My car was an old Honda, nearly twenty years old. It had been acting strangely for weeks. I must have looked crazy as my car jerked down the street while I passionately proclaimed to God my hopes for Him to rescue me. With an assurance in my voice I loudly said, “Jesus, You stated in Your Scriptures that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. Well, I need a car. So I am expecting You to work this out for my good and provide another car for me.” As those words rolled off my lips, peace fell all over me and I knew everything would be okay.

Just weeks before my car had started giving me trouble, I’d written a prayer to the Lord professing that I didn’t want to ever doubt Him again. I know that sounds courageous. But I’m not really all that brave. I was simply ready to walk in faith moment-by-moment and see God’s power working in my life in a greater way. For a number of years I’d been following Christ at all costs. During that season, the Lord was taking me to the place of knowing that every good thing in life would be provided by God if I followed Him wholeheartedly and would really, really trust Him.

At the time my car was breaking, my husband Michael was working hard to finish college while I worked several different part-time jobs including very late nights on the weekends for a catering business. Even with the catering job, my cleaning jobs, teaching dance on the side, and cutting all our spending to only necessities, we still barely had enough money to keep food on the table, much less money for car repairs.

After that day I’d found the courage to tell Jesus I needed for Him to provide me a better car, my old Honda continued to sporadically act up. I never knew if I would make it to my job safely or not. But I just kept praying for the Lord to keep my car running and waiting on Him to provide a new one. I truly knew He would. Just a few weeks later, I received a call from my mother with some sweet news.

In her kind voice, she said, “Amy, I want you to know that the Lord put it on my heart to give you our car since we’re purchasing another one.” The timing was impeccable. My mom had no idea that our car was seriously malfunctioning. I had decided not to share those details with her so she wouldn’t be tempted to worry. There wasn’t a reason to tell her because I knew God would handle it. His Holy Spirit whispered in my mother’s ear and shared our need with her at precisely the moment we needed to see God’s hand working in our midst.

God’s timing is perfect. He never fails us when we place our trust in Him alone.

It’s been years since Jesus provided that car for me when I desperately needed it. He has continued to open doors and has blessed my family with everything we’ve needed through the years. Even after undeniably seeing miracles in my life, I can be tempted to doubt Christ at times. Life is challenging. When things aren’t going as I had hoped they would, doubtful thoughts tempt me. But now, after watching God’s faithfulness in my life over and over and over again, I continually choose to push out the negative thoughts by focusing on what the Scriptures say. I continually rejoice over the way Jesus comes through for me every single time I need for Him to work on my behalf.

Doubt and self-pity open the door for disappointments. Faith opens the door for the impossible to be unleashed in our lives. In Mark 11:22-24, Jesus said, “Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him…When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”

Are you in need of a miracle? Being in need is the perfect position to see God’s power. It’s not until we let go of things, surrender everything to Christ, and release it all into His hands, that we see His power working abundantly.

Walking by faith is not easy. It takes practice. But I have learned that the only way any of us will truly see God’s power in our lives is by leaving doubt behind forever and choosing to walk by faith and not by sight.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (English Standard Version)

WAITING WITH EXPECTATION IN 2014

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The telephone rang and I rushed to answer it. I’d been waiting to hear some news from my husband, Michael. He had recently interviewed for a higher position within the company he works for.

When I picked up the phone, Michael’s words were sweetness to my soul. He exclaimed in a boyish way, “I got the promotion, Babe!”

I squealed loudly in a high-pitched tone for what seemed like a minute or two. I sounded like the moms of American Idol contestants when they’ve heard that their children made it to the finals. It was long-awaited news that made my heart leap.

Four years earlier, Michael sensed the Lord guiding him to return to college with the goal of earning a degree that could be used to combine his previous computer skills with the medical diagnostics field. After being laid off from four different jobs and facing the disappointment of several business failures, he was elated to finally be reaping the harvest of the good things he had sown.

Michael had been in the Information Technology field for over two decades. But due to the IT field being over-saturated with new graduates and his lack of updated certifications, he hadn’t been able to get rehired in that field for many years. During the interim, we barely scraped by while I worked low-paying, part-time jobs to be a home-schooling mom and Michael earned a living by delivering pizza, working as a package courier, and so on until God opened the door to his dreams.

I’ll never forget the day in February of 2012 when Michael’s long-time dream to use his IT skills in the medical field came true. There isn’t a way to fully express what this job promotion meant to our family. After time and time again of thinking we had come to the right door of opportunity only to find out that it wasn’t yet our time, we took a sigh of relief when we realized our doorway to revel in joy had arrived. We had waited for decades to see God fulfill this desire and dream. This fulfilled desire pushed us closer to many other dreams we had.

Waiting makes it so much sweeter than it does to get our desires met instantaneously. I would relive every difficult trial one-thousand times over to experience the joy I found in Christ during all those years of waiting on Him to show us His perfect plan for our lives.

I remember when I was a little girl; there were movies that I had to wait a whole year to watch. We didn’t have DVDs or videos back then. So every year, I was excited beyond measure to watch Sound of Music or to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Christmas time. It didn’t matter that I had to wait a very long time to see the shows and movies. The waiting made it blissful when the time arrived for me to see them again.

Waiting can be hard. We can begin doubting that good things are coming. But as followers of Christ, we are promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

There is an old phrase I remember hearing, “Good things come to those who wait.” I love that saying, but I would add a few words to it…Good things come to those who are surrendered to Christ and waiting in faith.

Are you waiting for something that you know in your spirit is coming? Are you getting weary in the waiting?

As stated in Mark 9:23, Jesus, said, “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” We can rest in His words and know that as we are waiting and believing, His good plans will unfold.

It’s worth the wait for sure. It’s worth it because when you finally receive your blessing, you will have so much joy that you will feel as though you may burst with glee.

Hang on and trust Jesus in 2014. As you live fully surrendered to Christ and live according to His will, your time of blessing will come.

“And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Hebrews 6:15 (NIV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This post has been revised from a piece I wrote previously.

GOD’S AMAZING GRACE

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As my mom reached out and touched my step-mom’s shoulder, I saw a love I had never seen before. I remember the day like it was yesterday. We were at a family event after my dad had left our home to live with and marry another woman. It was a day when we were all together again after the divorce of my parents. It could have been disastrous and filled with tension and stress. But instead it was a day filled with grace.

The unconditional love of Christ was revealed through my mother’s actions as she showed true kindness and love to the woman who had lured my dad away from her. It was the grace that I saw coming from my mother’s heart that impacted me eternally. These memories are what beckon me daily to live as my mother lives, to live as a woman steeped in grace—loving freely all those who have hurt, used, or mistreated me.

True freedom comes from living in the grace that was given to all mankind when Christ paid the final penalty for every wrong thing we’ve ever done or will do in the future.

Oh, the beauty of God’s amazing grace makes my spirit soar and makes me want to frolic in a field of flowers.

“But continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 (Good News Translation)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Grace.” Today’s post took me about ten extra minutes.

The photo of me was taken at the sunflower fields in Rutledge, Georgia.

Five Minute Friday

FINDING THE EXTRAORDINARY IN THE ORDINARY

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I walked into my grandmother’s assisted living home soon after her husband of 72 years passed away. It was hard to see her in the shape she was in. My grandmother Mema seemed lost without my grandfather Poppy by her side. I left that day and wept. I wept tears over the sadness I saw in her eyes, over her frailty and her seemingly lost sense of purpose.

In my spirit I knew I needed to trust the Lord and make it my mission to bring joy to her by visiting her as often as I could. So I made it a priority to drive over an hour to visit her each week and encourage her.

Every visit is different, yet so very beautiful. Her mind is fading a bit, but she always knows who I am and she’s happy to see me. Her frail, ninety-three-year-old body is so weak that she can’t stand up without me using every bit of my strength to assist her. She had to start using a wheel chair over the summer.

I’ve visited her twice this week. On Wednesday, I spent about three hours with her. Shortly after leaving the dining hall, I asked her, “Do you want me to push you around outside?” She responded, “Yes!” She acted as though it was the most exciting part of her day. We headed to the exit and I pushed her for what seemed like an hour.

On our walk, we stopped at every flower and looked closely and breathed in the beautiful, sweet smells. We looked closely at the leaves beginning to turn vibrant shades of red. We looked at the magnificent North Georgia Mountains surrounding us. In those moments, it was as though all of Mema’s cares had dissipated. We were breathing in the sweetness of God’s presence togethergrandmother and granddaughternot thinking of the past and not longing for what is to come. We were simply reveling in the beauty God had given us in those moments.

We were at an ordinary place in an ordinary parking lot of the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives. But there was nothing ordinary about these precious moments. They were sacred moments of breathing in the love of Christ and thanking Him for giving me these precious extraordinary days with my last living grandmother.

Jesus has an amazing way of taking what seems like ordinary life events and turning each moment into a spectacular, extraordinary display of His splendor.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.” Psalm 145:5 (New Living Translation)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Ordinary.” Today, I broke the rules and spent about twenty extra minutes writing this piece. I was weepy and couldn’t seem to stop writing after five minutes.

In the photo, my grandmother is holding her great-great grandchild (my nephew’s son).

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

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On a hot summer day, a week after my thirteenth birthday, I walked into my kitchen and saw my mother weeping. Her Bible was laying open on the table next to her, and in her eyes, I saw brokenness. I could feel the weight in the room. The air was thick with pain. I knew something really bad was happening. Suddenly, it felt as though my world was turned upside down.

My father asked my brother and me to take a ride with him in his car. Within moments of our driving away from our home, Daddy told us, “I’m leaving. I don’t love your mother anymore.” I was in shock. It wasn’t long before the pain began to rise to the surface of my heart.

My mother, who was and still is deeply in love with Christ, displayed His mercy in a way I had never seen before. In the days, and weeks following our devastating news, I watched closely as my mom responded with love and kindness. She spoke loving words about my daddy, saying, “We need to forgive him and pray for him.” She not only forgave him immediately, but she continued to love him in a Christ-like, unconditional love. She promised me that the Lord would redeem everything.

As painful as it was for me to experience such a loss and heartbreak in my childhood, I am grateful for that season in my life. It was during those youthful years that I began learning about the grace and mercy of Christ in a real and tangible way.

Now, thirty-five years later, I thank the Lord daily for His mercy and grace. It’s because of His loving-kindness and never-ending mercy that I can freely live in His love. I can love those who use and mistreat me.

His mercy enables all of us, as His followers, to love purely. His mercy heals broken hearts and makes life incredibly beautiful.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 (NIV)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Mercy.” Today, I had a hard time finding a good stopping point and wrote for about ten minutes.

The woman in the photo is my hero and amazing mother.

Five Minute Friday

THE STOLEN RED CAR

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I knew something was wrong when I heard my husband’s words over the telephone. “Please don’t get upset with me over what I’m about to tell you,” Michael said with a stressed tone and a sense of urgency in his voice. “My car was just stolen. I ran into the convenience store at a gas station really quickly; when I came back out, my car was gone.” I didn’t get upset with Michael, but my heart sank into my stomach with concern as I listened to his words.

Thoughts went swirling through my mind. Actually the thoughts were more like race cars speeding through my head at ninety miles per hour. What are we going to do? How can this possibly turn out good? That car is necessary for us to make it.

The little red Honda that was taken from us that day had been given to us by a sweet widow in our church. God had laid it on her heart to give it to us during a very trying season for us.  It was about seven years ago that my husband was supporting our family by delivering pizzas  six to seven days a week while I home-schooled our children and worked various side jobs like babysitting and teaching dance to young children.

At the time we were given the car we chose not to have full insurance coverage because we needed to save every little penny we could. We only had liability insurance to cover the damage done to another person’s vehicle. I questioned whether or not that was a wise decision.

After I let the shock sink in, I hurried and picked up Michael in our other vehicle which was a huge station wagon that guzzled gas. As I was driving, I continued to ponder the reality of the situation. How could Michael use our gas-guzzling station wagon to deliver pizza? The cost of the gas would eat up the measly hourly wage he was making. And his tips were almost always barely enough to make a difference for our family.

Later, when Michael and I sat down to talk about our options, we realized we really only had one option. We had to pray and trust God to return our car.

We knew it would take a miracle. I had heard of stories when cars were stolen and later found fully stripped down. I quickly shut those thoughts out of my mind and prayed, “Lord, return to us what has been stolen. We need Your help. With You all things are possible.”

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A sweet friend believed and trusted for the impossible, along with my husband and me. I was ecstatic when a few weeks later Michael received a call from a police officer. His words were sweetness to our souls, “We’ve recovered your car.” The police had found the car abandoned on the side of the road less than an hour from our house.

Amazement rose up in my spirit when we went to retrieve our car from the wrecker service lot. Not only had the car been returned. It had been upgraded. The thief had replaced our cheap hubcaps with alloy wheels.

We celebrated that day. And even though that hard season has been over now for a number of years, I’ll always remember how God used a little red Honda to show us that He truly does restore what the locusts have eaten.

“And I restore or replace for you the years that the locust have eaten…” Joel 2:25 (Amplified Bible)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Red.”  Today, I was typing as fast as I possibly could to be able to finish writing this story. It took me about fifteen minutes.

Five Minute Friday

REJOICING IN SMALL BEGINNINGS

We were ecstatic when my husband Michael was hired by a small German company after a two and half year season of him being without full-time work. But as we began to ponder the details, we realized that it wasn’t exactly what we had planned for. After all, my husband had returned to college and worked tirelessly earning a Biomedical Engineering degree. We had expected to have a better salary, better benefits, and most definitely hadn’t planned on Michael having to live in Germany for three months of training.

Without medical coverage for me and the kids, Michael worried that he may have been making a mistake by accepting this job. I wondered, “How in the world will I handle everything with my husband in another country?” After some time of wrestling with God, we surrendered to what we believed was his divine plan for our family, but not without reservations. It was hard to let go of our concerns without all of the dots connecting.

Still, we moved forward with faith. As I trusted God, I could hear His encouraging voice in my spirit. He reminded me of a scripture in Zechariah. “Do not despise small beginnings…”

Looking back, I am beyond grateful that I chose to trust God during that season of small beginnings. If we had not, our family would have missed, perhaps, the greatest blessing of our lives. Within months of Michael accepting the job with the German company, it was bought out by one of the largest corporations in the world. We were blown away by the medical benefits, the increased salary, the opportunity for promotion and growth. Who would have dreamed that our obedience in following Christ in the small things could lead to such grand, new things?

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Small.” Today, I wrote for about twelve minutes, trying to find a good stopping point.

 

Five Minute Friday

Bible Study Blessings

If you’re looking for a way to connect with people of faith, I would recommend attending or hosting a Bible study group. There’s a great website with resources for those seeking to host a neighborhood Bible study…www.nbs2go.com

The Bible study group I got involved with blessed my life in unimaginable ways. I recently wrote a guest post sharing about my experience with a neighborhood Bible study. I’m excited to share my story with you.

 

Unexpected Blessings

I could’ve never dreamed of the blessings that would come from my involvement in a neighborhood Bible study. I hadn’t planned to be a part of a Bible study group. I got involved in a roundabout way.

It all started when my boss approached me at my job, saying, “Amy, would you be interested in being the babysitter for the neighborhood Bible study where I attend?”

I worked at a children’s gymnastics facility and loved children. So I excitedly wrote down the name and telephone number of the leader of the study, and got in touch with her within a few days.

I’ll never forget the first conversation I had with the leader, Laurie. When we talked I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice. She began telling me how they had prayed for God to send a new children’s caregiver to the study.

With excitement, Laurie said, “Our previous babysitter was named Amy. She was a compassionate and caring lady. We’ve been praying for God to send us another “Amy” and He literally sent us another Amy!” We chuckled together as she said, “God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?”

To read the remainder of the story click here.

The Birth of Compassion

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I opened an e-mail and began reading about Rehema. The tears flowed down my face as I focused on her birth date. She was born the same day as I was. I knew at that moment God had divinely chosen this woman for me to support financially through a sponsorship. It wasn’t a coincidence. It couldn’t be, I thought. But still, I wanted a confirmation to know for sure.

I contacted Lisa, the sponsorship coordinator, and left a voice mail message. “Did you know that Rehema had the same birthday as mine?”

“No I did not know that was your birthday!!!! Yes, God wanted you to sponsor her. I am sure,” Lisa wrote to me in an e-mail.

I wept as I celebrated this milestone in my life, and thanked God for matching me with a woman who shares my birthday as a sign of His sovereign power. This is truly a celebratory week for me. Rehema is a house mother at the Hands of Love Orphanage in Uganda, East Africa. She’s the mother of five children, and has been caring for orphans for two years. She’s a dedicated volunteer that works up to fifteen hours each day for no money.

I had signed up to be a staff sponsor through Hands of Love USA, a non-profit organization that helps fund two orphanages in Kampala, Uganda. I attended a Hands of Love event in 2011 and began sponsoring one of the children back then.

My heart is drawn toward helping the poor and the orphaned children more than any other cause. God placed these desires in my heart many years ago when I didn’t have the means to help meet the needs of orphans. I share this story not to boast about myself, but to bring honor to Christ and share of His ability to turn our pain into a life of purpose.

I remember lying awake at night years ago praying and begging God to redeem my broken life. My heart was filled with questions for God during those painful times for our family. Why has my husband been laid off from work four times? Why have we had three failed businesses? Why are we left in a situation where we can’t afford health insurance? Why am I battling chronic stomach illness?

In those quiet moments of desperate prayer, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord saying, “These hardships are preparing you for the work I have for you to do.” It was then that I learned that our greatest need as humans is the need to give. We were created to give, and when we have little to give it hurts deeply.

In those moments of experiencing a true lack of resources, I shifted my focus off of myself and would think of the children in Africa who don’t even have clean water to drink, a roof over their head, or clothes to wear. Thinking of the ones with much greater pain lessened my own suffering.

Many times, in my spirit, I heard God confirming His will for me as He spoke so softly. “I’m preparing you for your destiny, a life of giving to those in Africato those who are in much greater need than you’ll ever be.” His words always brought me comfort because I knew my suffering was not in vain.

My dream of helping African people came to fruition after my husband earned a college degree and began working in the medical diagnostics field in the summer of 2010. We began working hard to pay off the mountain of credit card debt we had attained during the years of famine. We are now 100% out of debt other than our house payment. We are free to fight the injustices of the world.

Every time I look at the photo of Rehema I get weepy because I know the intense joy she is experiencing in knowing Christ has provided for her needs. I envision meeting her some day. I can only imagine the joy and tears we both will experience as we rejoice together over what Christ has done.

I celebrate the fact that I was once impoverished and in lack. It was during those times of need that I drew nearer to the heart of Christ. My suffering allowed me to feel His heartbeat and know the yearnings of His soul.

It’s easy to question the goodness of God when we are sufferingespecially when there are tragedies like the tornado that recently devastated families in Moore, Oklahoma. Nobody can fully understand these kinds of disasters.

For me, I choose to believe that God is good no matter what happens on this earth. He loves us deeper than our hearts and minds can comprehend. (Ephesians 3:17-20)

God is love. (1 John 4:8) God is light. (John 8:22) God desires to give us good things. (Matthew 7:11)

There is a fierce battle going on at all times in the spirit world. The dark side wants us to be tormented eternally. The heavenly realm wants us to live in harmony with God, and to walk in oneness with Him eternally.

When bad things happen, we can cling to God, or we can run from Him and live in darkness. It’s when we’re surrendered to Christ that we see how He takes the most devastating circumstances, turns them around, and uses them for good in our lives.

He uses our pain and our losses to birth the compassion of Christ in our hearts. It’s in our suffering that we begin to take on the very nature of Christ, and love others like He loves us.

I have a compassionate heart now that I could’ve never attained without going through what I did. True compassion is birthed out of getting a glimpse of what others have experienced. So if it takes suffering to grow closer to the heart of Christ, I welcome it and embrace it.

As I was finishing typing this story, I felt the Lord nudging me to look up the meaning of the name, Rehema. I smiled and got teary, but I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw on Google that her name means, “Empathy; Compassion.”

God did it againHe confirmed to me that He knew all along where He was leading me to when I was suffering.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4: 12-13 (The Message)