If God doesn’t give you the thing you want most – the job, relationship, or opportunity you’ve been praying for – would He still be enough for you? Would He be all you need? Would you still have a reason to praise and worship Him?
I love this quote by C.S. Lewis:
“One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give, and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.” — C.S Lewis
It’s a blessing to be successful, influential, and financially stable, but it’s a BIGGER blessing to know if you have God and nothing else, you still have all you need. I don’t mean to “know” in the intellectual sense because you read scriptures or heard someone’s testimony. I mean to know through experience. That kind of “knowing” only comes in one way – by being stripped of everything else.
Your Trials Have a Purpose
There have been a couple of seasons in my life where I was stripped of (pretty much) everything. I remember one in particular that lasted almost six months. I left my job, endured a break-up” and had to move back home with my mom. In one month, I lost everything that gave me value and purpose. I became clinically depressed and suffered with anxiety attacks and insomnia. Spiritually depleted, I hit rock bottom. I had nothing but God, and soon I would realize that was enough.
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That season wasn’t glamorous. It was painful and difficult, but I needed it. I’d put my hope and worth in everything except God. Sometimes consciously, and sometimes not. Now here I was without any of those things to comfort me. So I did the only thing I knew to do, pray and seek God. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was praying and reading His word. I read and re-read it until I actually believed it. In that moment I realized my need God. Hard times either pull you away from God or push you into a deeper intimacy with Him.
“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” — C.S. Lewis
It’s difficult to see the blessings in our hardship because it’s painful and uncomfortable. Our flesh craves control, comfort, and things that will satisfy it. Our spirit, however, craves God. The flesh and the spirit are constantly at war and that’s the root of our internal struggle; to desire in God’s will above our own. We all want the promise land without the wilderness, but that’s not how it works.
Rediscovering Your Identity
If you no longer have that relationship or job title, will you be confident in your identity? The wilderness, the trials and testing of our faith, allow us to see where our hope really lies. It could be God, or things like money, career advancement, social media following, attention from the opposite sex, or control. When you’re stripped of those things God is gifting you the opportunity to learn that He is truly all you need. He alone holds your identity, defines your value, and gives you security and purpose.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. — James 1:2-4 NIV
I know it’s painful, but the pain isn’t meant to break you. It’s meant to break your will and free you from the lies you’ve believed for decades. God loves you enough to strip you of all the things that can’t fulfill you to teach you who your true source is.
What a privilege it is to own things, and experience success without being defined by it. You’ll be able to endure loss and failure without losing yourself because your worth, purpose, and future are not dependent upon something you can lose.
As I came out of that stripping season I learned that my relationship status didn’t determine my worth, God did. I learned that my job isn’t the source of my income, it’s a resource God uses to provide for me. I stopped making those things my god, and put God in his rightful place as first in my life.
God Disciplines Those He Loves
If you’ve been stripped of your comforts, relationships, and resources, it’s not because God is mad at you. It’s because he loves you. Hebrews 12 tells us, “The Lord disciplines those he loves”. God desires for you to know Him, and to know that regardless of what you gain or lose you have all you need if you remain in Him.
God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:10-11 NLT