Reflection: Testing and Endurance

Fasting has been a part of my life over the years where I have participated many times in my quest for spiritual growth, knowledge, and change. But I would participate only to the degree where I would willfully give up one thing I most desired for a certain amount of time. The fast would be approximately four hours of the day or from the time I rise until the end of the day with a minimum duration no more than a week. It was not until I discovered a fast I participate in monthly called #holdFAST that I learned about the Daniel fast.

Granted, I am a Bible reader and I know many of you may be wondering, “How could she not have known about Daniel fast?” Well, I heard of Daniel many times throughout the span of my life, but never recall hearing of the 21-day Daniel fast. And sadly but honestly, the only answer I have is I had not yet read the book of Daniel, hence, no knowledge of it. I’m still a work in process/progress.

Through my experiences of prayer and fasting, I learned it was not about eliminating foods for the sake of not eating or to be a part of something. But it was where I would make the ultimate sacrifice to God in development of my relationship with him.

It began the process of change. It brought me closer to God. I learned the meaning of sacrifice, obedience, and humility. I learned endurance, obedience, and perseverance builds character. I learned that, through sacrifice, I changed.

But it didn’t stop there. I was always looking for ways to grow spiritually. And whatever process it took to get me there, I would investigate and if it was in alignment with God’s laws, I would seek detailed instructions to participate or be a part of.

As such, I became connected to other people I had never met before in my life who shared the same Christian values and beliefs as me. It was where I was introduced to #holdFAST by a wonderful minister I met on Twitter named Kia Granberry (www.livelovekia.com)  who is also the founder of #holdFAST.

She had been fasting 21-days each month since January 2012. I was so moved by her powerful testimony that I joined in on the journey in June where I would complete the three-day fast the first three days of the month. It is now part of my life every month and has become my testimony to what prayer and fasting will do.

I learned through packets I received monthly, that HoldFAST basically was an abbreviated Daniel fast where the traditional fast is for three days but the extended fast last 21-days much like Daniel’s 21-day fast. We eat only three things, FRUITS, VEGGIES, and WHOLE GRAINS.

November will mark the 11th month of participating in #holdFAST. But I find as each month comes, temptation becomes greater where I feel like I cannot make it to reach this year’s end, which will be December.

The enemy does all he can in his attempt to convince me into believing I need to quit; in hopes of my giving up. He makes life difficult. But I know it’s nothing I can’t handle because God is on my side. And I know nothing’s too hard for God.

Today was a day of all days where it seemed like nothing was going my way. I said, “God I know you’re with me today. Even though I feel like I can’t make it through the day. The enemy’s heavy on my trail. But with your help, I will prevail. I’m covered!”

With all that I had been going through, I couldn’t help but reflect on timing and know that this is nothing but a trick of the enemy. I’m too close to the end and he’s trying his best to win. But there is no way because God will have his say.

My belief: “The harder the struggle, greater is the reward.”

I couldn’t help but go back to a time when I was faced with what I felt were similar obstacles and had to tell God that day, all that was on my mind. The words I share below are from some time ago. Yet, I felt I needed to reflect on it today as a source of inspiration to get through. Thought I’d share it with you:

It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to say. The things I am encouraged to put out here today. There are times when I can’t be quiet about what it is God has done for me. In these times, I find I want to shout to the world his goodness and mercy; thanking him for saving me.

The past week has been filled with cloud storms and rain, only to seek the Lord to make me whole again. Couldn’t help but express my thoughts in the only way I know how. As I shout out loud. Things I must say. And I hope Lord, it is okay.

Earlier this week a time came upon me when I really, really needed to talk with God. I confessed to Him how I think this life sometimes can be so hard. I told Him, “and while I know it’s nothing new, because you already know; you are YOU. You are the only one I can talk to. You are always listening; you guide me through. Please know that I say these things to you dear Lord. Only to release feelings that is null and void.”

I fell on my knees in anguish to pray and said unto him, “My heart is filled with a heavy burden, praying I find rest. In what I feel is just a test. I ask for nothing but have a small request. Fill me with confidence to do my best.”

I wake every morning thinking I have enough strength. Only to find within time my body, mind, and soul are spent. Searching as I fall asleep. For that which only you can give will surpass me; peace. By the time I awake the day has passed me by. Missed deadlines to meet, plans gone awry.

Oftentimes my heart filled with fear. Because I don’t feel like I belong here. I lie in bed with thoughts that I’ve failed. As I struggle to find hope in the smallest things, but God’s Word would prevail. Thoughts would fill my head with desire to find strength. Through your Word divinely sent.

I don’t look for pity or sympathy. I only want to express my thoughts freely. As I work to get through this day. With the hope that tomorrow will be brighter, better, as it comes without delay.

I have hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Therefore, I won’t give up. I will continue to fight regardless of what life the enemy tries to suck; out of me. Because I know one day I’ll be free. Free from anguish and agony.

Today, although it doesn’t look like, is the day. I will give all my cares to you, Jesus, because I know you will make a way. Thank you Lord, for listening and hearing my thoughts and prayers today.

That day had passed then something came unexpectedly. I felt God saying to me. “I will never leave or forsake you. I will see you through your pain; through the storm and the rain. Keep your eyes open and listen when it comes. I will send someone.”

Strangely enough, there was an encounter with a person I didn’t know. Only that his words struck a chord that my mind would not let go. As I worked to understand what this was and why it was happening to me. On the last day, God revealed it to me.

Through another encounter with my cousin Wanda who shared this message. She called at a time which was unexpected. She told me, “Whatever you’re going through is only a test. To see how well you would strive to do your best. God knows your heart. And knows what you intend to do. He only wants what is best for you. He will take all your troubles away. No matter what you see in your circumstances, come what may.” “Hold on cousin. Fast and pray. Believe and have faith. God will make a way.”

I had been participating in a Rules of Engagement prayer that was eight pages long and lasted thirty days. Along with a simple fast I would engage in. I thought, “Odd how did she know I had been fasting and praying? I had not talked to her in ages.” But God knew. He sent exactly who he needed to. To serve as confirmation to what he was about to do. To let me know he was there for me. In spite of the pain and trouble that seemed to follow me. God interceded on my behalf. He promised, “This too shall pass.”

The test became my testimony. It was a testimony of faith. Faith I held on to as I waited. Resilience and perseverance were essential too. Fasting and prayer brought me through. It works.

The ultimate revelation came when I began #holdFAST. I noticed unfamiliar things from what I experienced in the past. I offered my body to Christ; as a living sacrifice. It changed the way I would eat. I no longer longed for things that were not good for me. Foods I thought I needed were no longer important to me. Foods that were healthier became of value to me. It helped me tremendously.

The fast was so powerful it moved me to tears. I noticed how God began to remove all my fears. He began closing one door after another. It was beyond comprehension in the midst of my troubles.

I fell in love with #holdFAST and made a commitment to this day, to incorporate it as cleansing every month; needless to say.  I look forward to when the time comes. As #holdFAST begins the month of greater things to come. It changed my life completely. It helped me grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now please don’t get me wrong. By no means am I negating the significance of other fasting methods because I still participate in others too. But #holdFAST has been the most rewarding experience that changed how I look at things and what I choose to do. I am thankful.

Thankful for what I learned. Humility wasn’t given but earned. Through my actions I learned evidence of defeat was merely a reflection of who I had become. But with faith and endurance, I would overcome. Faith was substance of things I hoped for, evidence of things I could not see. Endurance built character and defined the person God said I would be.

Throughout this journey, I learned at best, phrases I’ve coined that put my mind at rest. “Adversity affirms the assignment. Brokenness breaks barriers. Perseverance promotes purpose.” Words that kept me focused.

Only by the grace of God, I made it through. I envisioned the plan he had for my future. There was a great assignment waiting for me to complete. With God’s guidance, I will have victory!!

My reward is on the way. When the enemy comes my way, I won’t hesitate. I will receive all God has stored up for me. I trust God. I believe. God has all power. It’s in his hands. He’s faithful. God’s Word stands.

Lastly, know this:

People will see God’s glory on the outside, never knowing what you went through. That brought you to the place they now see you. The Spirit of God helped you. You will show the world how you have overcome. It is by the blood of the LAMB, God Almighty, the only one.

When it looks like a test, remember God knows best.

You may have trials. “Trials serve purpose.” You may become weary. “Tests strengthen your character.” You may have struggles. “Tests prove your faith is genuine.”  You may fall short. “Tested faith gives honor to God.”

In the end, “Testing during struggles becomes your TESTIMONY to demonstrate, ‘Great is our God.’ Have faith.”  Prayer, fasting, andTESTS SHAPE US” into the person God says we will be. Trust God. In time, you will witness, God’s Sovereignty.

James 1:3 – 6 “For you know that when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. 5 If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

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