Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Quest To See And Value Your Amazingness – Part 2

Watch what you are seeing or focusing your attention on. Because what you focus your attention on feeds your mind and what you think about the most affects your attitude.

When we focus our attention on the things we don’t have yet, we miss the opportunity to be grateful for the things we have. We miss the amazing goodness of God on display in our lives every day when we grumble and complain about the things we want and have yet to receive.

In the first part of this blog post, I shared an example of how I failed to take note of the amazingness of my husband while focussing more on what I desired of him. My husband champions my cause. He promotes my interest, and he acts with my best interest at heart. It is very easy to miss the many quiet and seemly little ways he does this. And in missing them, I also fail to acknowledge and appreciate them. This can happen to any of us, even with the best intentions, if we have not made a conscious and deliberate decision to pay attention to the good in our spouse; to seek to see and value the unique and amazing things they do, which we often take for granted.

Our arch-enemy, the devil, is hell-bent on attacking Christian marriages. And it seems unwittingly, we are collaborating with him. We are not fighting a good fight for our marriages. We have become lethargic and slothful in this battle to erode the foundation of Christian marriage. A friend once said to me that we, the Christians, are no longer making marriages attractive. The world cannot seem to see the difference between us who professes to have God as the cornerstone of our marriage and those who don’t.

A Conscious Decision:
Craig Groeschel in his article; “It can be as good as you decide” made a profound statement that he and his wife decided their marriage will be as good as they decide it to be. They decided. They made the decision that come what may; their marriage will be good. It was a deliberate, conscious decision. They decided that they would seek God together, pray together and put God first. They decided that they would always fight towards resolution instead of towards winning, which left plenty of room for forgiveness and love. Simply put, they decided that they will make their marriage as good as they can for each other with the help of God.

They, the two of them, decided. It is taking both of them working together as one. They chose a focus for their marriage. They decided what they were going to allow to guide their attention and what will keep them working at making their marriage work.

You can decide how good your marriage will be. That is the starting point. It becomes the guiding principle for the marriage; that through the storms and the struggles we will do everything in our power to make our marriage good.

A critical element of making our marriage good is seeking to see the good in our spouse. It is paying attention to the good and unique qualities in them, acknowledging it, appreciating it and thanking God for it.

“One of the greatest secrets to a happy marriage is gratitude. Thankfulness. An overt recognition of your spouse’s amazingness” – Shauna Feldhahn.

What You Are Thinking About Matters:
You see, what you focus your attention on about your spouse will feed your thoughts about him/her—what you will be meditating on about your spouse. Eventually, what you are thinking about the most about your spouse will affect your attitude towards him/her. If your mind is filled with negative thoughts about your spouse, you will become emotionally disconnected with him/her. That will create a gap between the two of you.

Take a moment to ponder on this. Very often we find ourselves moody, cranky and sour towards our spouses. Check what you had been meditating on before your mood became foul and sour. It is most likely that you have been meditating on your spouse’s shortcomings, and weaknesses, and before long you are building an argument ready to react to him/her on the issue. Sometimes, what you are building an argument against in your heart has not even happen yet. It is simply an outcome of the subtle suggestions of the enemy. If you don’t pay attention to the negative suggestions that the enemy drops in your mind but spend time mulling over these negative suggestions, they will take root and begin to sour your attitude.

When the enemy turned on the bad channel, we need to consciously change the channel and keep changing it even when it appeared that it is automatically reverting to the bad channel. You actively change the channel by fixing your thoughts on what is right, true, pure, honourable, excellent, and of good report. Then you go a step further, and you speak it out so your ears can hear the truth of God’s Word against the lies suggested by the enemy.

Seek to see good:
Quit complaining, nagging and focusing on what your spouse is not doing right and where he/she is yet to come to par. But start taking note of and appreciating the good qualities in your spouse—there must be some if you have chosen to marry him/her. It is when you begin to notice the amazingness of your spouse, acknowledging and appreciating it that you will be able to draw out the other good qualities you desire to see in your spouse. The more we neglect to see and appreciate the good that is present now in our spouses, the less we are likely to attract the good we want to see in them. 

When we make a conscious and deliberate effort to value the amazing qualities in our spouses, it helps us to expect and have the confident hope that these qualities will show up in their lives and impact our relationship. You simply need to have eyes that seek to find the good in your spouse and be keenly aware of their amazing value or attributes. Train your eyes to see the good in your spouse and watch that good revealed at every turn. Take note of it when it is revealed and go the extra mile to acknowledge and appreciate it.

Bridging the gulf
Are there dark corners in your life and your relationships? Areas where you are not open and honest with each other, where you have hidden stuff from each other. When you have such dark corners in your relationship, it cannot be truly illuminated, flooded with light as it ought to be so that you can be deeply and truly intimate with each other.

These dark corners bring tension into the relationship and often obliterate our vision and prevents us from seeing the true value and amazingness of our spouse. They fester as they become a cesspool of filth the enemy dumps on our minds about our spouse and our relationship. Therefore, a quest to see and value your spouse amazingness requires that you have open and honest conversations so that you can deal with those dark areas that have created a gulf between you.

To have the kind of marriage that God desires for us to have, both husband and wife will have to do their fair share of forgiving. Especially forgiving what will be considered unforgivable. Perhaps, your relationship has gone sour—your spouse has broken faith, and you have experienced betrayal. Maybe you are at the point of giving up on the marriage, and you simply cannot see good anymore. This is also a pivotal point to put forgiveness into action. Forgiving the unforgivable is reflecting the forgiving nature of our God who forgave us our sins while we were still yet sinners. Whatever the outcome, forgiving your spouse will be liberating for you.

“Marriage means persevering. It means never giving up on each other.”

The principles shared in this blog post applies to all our relationships. When we complain and grumble about the things that are not going right, and we see only the things our children, our friends and government are not doing right, we will fail to see the good in anyone or situation. We, therefore, cannot be thankful for what we fail to see.

This is even more important in our relationship with God. Do you have an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness that seeks to see the goodness of God daily and in every situation even when it seems hard? An attitude of gratitude and a mindset that seeks to see good will attract God’s favour towards us. Seek to see God's goodness each day even when it seems least visible and you will find His goodness functioning at its best on your behalf.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the United States.

Let’s all develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving as we seek to see and value the amazingness of God in our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

This post is dedicated to the my amazing husband. I am blessed to have you in my life. You are much loved, valued and appreciated.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Quest To See And Value Your Amazingness Part 1

It has been a long while since I wrote to enrich marriages. I have not lost sight of this part of my commitment to my readers to enrich relationships, especially marriages. I stumbled on some quotes and messages in the past few weeks coupled with my personal experience that brought enriching relationships back to the front burner. I will share in this post nuggets I have gleaned from these purposeful enlightening experience.

Paul’s prayer in the Book of Ephesians struck me, and I found it instructive for this post. I will paraphrase Chapter 1 verse 18 as follows;
"I pray that your eyes of understanding will be focused, clear and enlightened (your hearts will be flooded with light) so that you may see exactly God is calling you to do, and know and understand the confident hope He has given to those He called;"

In verse 17, Paul prayed that Jesus Christ will give us spiritual wisdom and insight, making us intelligent and discerning so that we may grow in our knowledge of God; knowing Him personally, deeply and intimately.

We need spiritual wisdom and insight to know God intimately. We need to have our eyes sharpened and focussed to see the goodness of God in our every waking moment. It is very easy for our vision to be obscured by the challenges, adversities and problems we have in life that we fail to take note of, acknowledge and appreciate the goodness of God; we often to fail to pay attention to the good that God is doing in our lives each day. In failing to do so, we also fail to appreciate God and give thanks, praise and adoration to Him for His wonderful deeds. We also fail to give Him the glory due to Him. 

This lack of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness hinders a close and intimate relationship with God. Because we will tend to complain and grumble more about the things we are yet to have or receive from God.

Seek To See Good:
We need to seek to see God's goodness each day even when it seems least visible, and we will find His goodness functioning at its best on our behalf. We have to train our eyes to see the good God richly pours out even in the midst of our trials. When we do so will see good revealed at every turn. If we don’t make a concerted and deliberate effort to see the good in our lives each day, our eyes and minds will always focus on the part of the cup that is empty and we will miss the many blessings already in the cup.

This truth is also applicable to our relationships. So often, we fail to see the good in the lives of those God has brought into our lives; these could be our spouses, siblings, friends, etc. While my emphasis in this blog will be on our relationship with our spouse, this principle is relevant to all our relationships.

A dear Senior Sista-Friend shared with me recently The UCB Word for Today devotional titled “Strengthen Your Marriage.” In this devotional, a couple celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary shared three Cs that helped to strengthen their marriage.
1.       Commitment – putting the other person first
2.       Concern – genuinely seeking to find out what your spouse needs. “Because husbands and wives are as different as cheese and chalk.”
3.       Coping – “We can work it out.” You cannot always avoid conflict, but you can make it work for you.

A statement in the devotional caught fire in my spirit; “Closeness in marriage is not an accident; it is a decision you make, and keep making each day.”

I am strongly persuaded that one of the most important ways to develop emotional and spiritual intimacy in our marriage, and ultimately physical intimacy, is a quest to see and appreciate the good in our spouse. Beyond that, also to acknowledge and appreciate the good we see irrespective of the other changes our hearts desire to see in them. It is amazing what we can see and how much we can see when we give more than a cursory look and give attention to details.

Let me share my story with you to illustrate this point:
It was one of those weeks when so many things had to happen at the same time. It was also one of those weeks that my husband was at home in between long travels. We sat across each other on our dining table made of thousands of green glass smithereens sandwiched between two slabs of solid glass. The glass top dining table continues to be a source of inspiration to me and amazement to everyone who pays attention to it. Its uniqueness becomes more obvious as you take a closer look.

I was working with an intense focus on a protocol due for submission in less than 24 hours. My husband was also intently focused on the pile of envelopes on one side of his laptop, which he moved to the other side after working on the content of each envelope. I looked up occasionally from my laptop, wanting to catch his eyes on me or catch him looking at me with a smile. It didn’t happen. So I continued with my work.

Suddenly, my nerves fired shots of electricity through my right stump, and I winced in pain. Repeated firings had me groaning out loud. I looked across the table at my husband. He was so wrapped up in what he was doing that he didn’t hear me groaning.

So I kicked him with my left leg under the table. His head shot up, and he looked straight at me;
“You are not paying attention to me.”
He furrowed his brow. His eyes bore into mine. I winced again as another shot fired up my stump.
“My stump… Electric shocks…”
“Oh, sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t hear you.” His face lightened up, and the furrow disappeared.

The firing finally stopped. He continued with what he was doing. I continued for a while,then paused to look at him. That was when I noticed the pile on the right side had reduced while the pile on the left side mounted up. I knew what he was doing all the while. We had discussed it before he started and he asked for some clarifications as he worked. All of a sudden, the eyes of my understanding was illuminated; I realised what I had come to take for granted.

My husband was paying bills. He was crunching numbers. He was making decisions on what has to be paid, what can be paid and what would have to wait another month. He has been doing this for years. We became a single-income family when I stopped working and earning regular income at the end of 2007 because my health went downhill. It was a big deal and a huge concern for me, not to be able to contribute towards our family income in a significant way. But I would compile the bills ready for discussion and decision since I was at home all day and the one who takes receipt of the bills. In the last year leading to the lungs transplantation and the amputation of my legs, I could not even do this, and my husband had to take over completely, sorting and attending to the bills. While we discuss major stuff and pray together for God to supply our needs. Somehow, God makes provision for the huge pile of bills that comes in every month to get paid and to sustain us. The salary was just not enough.

So while I was getting angry at my husband for not paying the kind of attention I wanted to me, after all it was just the two of us at home, he was paying intent attention to keep us financially afloat. And I almost missed the intense effort he puts in every month to get it done, despite his heavy workload and frequent travels.

When we discussed the incidence later, I realized that I also missed one of the good that God did for us this year. For the past several years, my medical bills ran into many multiple hundreds of thousands Swiss francs. But in 2015, we had paid only a minute fraction in medical bills compared with the previous years. A huge hole in our finances had been sealed.

I knew more than ever before that I needed to retrain my eyes to focus on the awesome goodness of God, which He daily pour out on us. I also knew that I needed to have my eyes sharpened and focussed to see and value the amazingness of my husband; not once in all these years had he ever complained about the huge burden my medical issues had posed to our lives and our finances.

To be continued in Part 2.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Anchor For The Storms

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” – Ps 34:22

It is so uplifting and such a blessing to know that we have a God Who will never leave any of His own children desolate in the midst of the storm or in the times of hardship or adversity. Desolate, in the sense that one feels abandoned and devoid of help, hope and comfort. He always steps in to rescue us.

My experience during the month of October proved this to me beyond imagination, and it also confirmed to me that God always prepares an anchor ready to hold us fast to Himself so that we are not swept away by the fury of the storms of life. He reveals these anchors as we dwell close to Him and in His presence.

Every year during my birth-month—October, I commit myself to doing something different to deepen fellowship with God and develop a more intimate relationship with Him. As September came to an end, I began to seek God’s face concerning my fellowship with Him in October. I wanted to know what new dimension He wanted to bring into my fellowship with Him. It was on the last day of the September that a verse in the Bible caught fire in my spirit. It was in 1Timothy 2:1. The God’s Word translation encouraged us to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people. The Message translation magnified the text urging us to pray in every way we know how, for everyone we know.

A light-bulb flicked on in my spirit—I knew what God wanted me to do throughout the month of October. And I set about doing so—to pray for everyone I know, past and present, in every way I know how to pray.

It was during the first week that I had the foreboding of a storm as I prayed for everyone I know. But in the process of praying for some specific persons, I felt in my heart that it was in the dimension of fighting spiritual warfare—battling the enemy for the souls of these loved one. I knew God had always provided an anchor for me to fasten my faith and hope during storms in the past. And He would surely do so again.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

God’s word is timeless. It is eternal. It stands firm no matter how fierce the storm may be. David declared that God’s Word and truth are dependable (Ps 119:89-93). “If Your revelation, law and instructions had not delighted and sustained me, I would have given up when hard times came or in my afflictions. This verse jumped at me as I studied my Bible on Monday 12th.

Sometimes, when storms come, they come with fury, intense fierceness and with high waves that threaten to capsize the boat, such as was recorded in Mark 4. I was elated and filled with joy when I read of how Jesus rebuked the storm and commanded it to be still, and how the storm immediately 
obeyed and became calm.

This word became a lifeline and a sure anchor for me a few hours later when the storm hit. It came in the form of excruciating pain in my lower back. I had my sista-friend, Bidemi visiting me with her husband. We had planned an outing for the day. I refused to allow the pain to cancel our plans. Every step was in pain. Each time the pain seared through my back, the word, “Peace, be still!” echoed in my spirit. So it continued throughout the day. That night, all I could do was cry out, “I rebuke you, storm of pain in the name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus, be still.” At past 2:00 am, the storm obeyed the word of God, and it became calm. And I dozed off to sleep. I could not but give praise to God when I woke up in the morning. I praised Him for giving me that word and bring it to my remembrance before the storm struck. It provided an anchor for me as I was tossed about by the strong stormy winds.

Two weeks later, just before the next storm came, I had a strong leading in my spirit to study about the victory that Jesus died to purchase for us on the cross at Calvary. As I learnt more about the victory that God gave us through our Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:57, I came to understand that God desires for both you and me to walk in complete and full victory in EVERY situation and every sphere of our lives. We truly have no excuse for not walking in full victory because God has removed every obstacle out of our way because it is His will for us to learn to know the full benefits provided for us in Christ. God always cause us to triumph in Christ Jesus.

I knew I had to add this dimension to praying for everyone that I know so that they may also learn to appropriate the full victory and the full benefits of the cross in every sphere of their lives. God teaches us the secrets of keeping His victory flowing in our heart as we walk close with Him. That was what I wanted for every member of my family and all my friends, and that was what I prayed for them.

When the storm came in the form of an unexplained generalized allergy that caused severe itching all over my body, I held fast to the word of truth that Jesus died to give me victory over the affliction. The pain and the irritation kept my body restless, but my heart rested on the word that anchored me firm with hope.

I refused to give up praying for everyone I know in every way I know. I stood on the premise that Jesus came to set the lawful captives free and to deliver the prey of the mighty. I refused to be distracted by the harassment of the enemy knowing fully well that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. And in all these things, WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

God restored me to full health and strength again. Indeed, He restored me to even greater honour, and He comforted me. The trials and afflictions of my soul helped me to develop endurance and strength of character. October has been a victorious month. It has set the tone for the next eleven months of my life. I will walk in victory in every sphere of my life until I arrive at October 2016.

May your souls find rest in Jesus as you remained anchored by His word of in every storm of your lives. May God’s word sustain you with joy and quicken so that you are enabled to stand strong and overcome the storms.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Life Worth Living Is Life Lived To Serve

The choir led us to sing the song during the Praise and Worship session. We sang with all our hearts. The song reverberated through the hall. The Pastor requested that we take the song again when he addressed the church. It was as we sang again that the last line of the chorus caught my attention. It caught fire in my spirit. The line wrapped itself tightly around my heart. It re-echoed in my mind for days afterwards.

“I live to serve Your majesty.”

The lyrics called out to me, urging an account of my life;

“Am I living my life to serve my King?”
“Am I living a life of service to His Majesty, the Most High God, the King of all Kings?”

I pondered on these questions for many days. It is amazing how just one line of a song can weave itself into our subconscious, becoming a part of our thoughts as we wake up in the morning, as we doze off to sleep at night and several times in between. That has been the case with me with this one line in the chorus of the song; “King of Kings, Majesty” written by Jarrod Cooper.

What Kind of Life Are We Living:

Philippians 2: 3-4 says “Do not be selfish;” Admonishing us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. It also admonishes us not to be concerned only for or look only to our own interest but to be concerned for the interest of others. The worst thing we can do with our lives is to live only for ourselves—focussing only on our needs, wants and gains.

The litmus test of living a selfish life as a Christian is the content of our prayers. Is your prayer more about you, yourself and everything you want God to do for you? God did not put us on earth to live for ourselves.

The next pertinent question we need to ask ourselves is about the motive for what we are doing under the canopy of service to God. Is it to call attention or bring glory to us? Whose interest is being served by our service?

When we do not with humility consider others, we are exhibiting pride and a preoccupation with self. Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God need to strive constantly for. Our humility in service to God is demonstrated when we are concerned about the interest of others especially those in the household of faith.

Jesus demonstrated humility and selfless concern for others. We are called as believers to have the same mind as is Christ. To have the same mindset as Jesus Christ is to be others focussed.

We also need to note that Jesus did not serve others out of convenience. It cost Him something—it cost Him His life. We are self-oriented if we are serving out of convenience.

The bottom-line here is that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. We have been called to be like Jesus in every way—to selflessly serve others. We become more like Jesus as we live a life of service. A life well lived is a life lived in service of God through service to humanity.

God has given each of us gifts, talents and abilities. We are to be generous with these different gifts God gave us—using them to serve and bless others—as faithful stewards of God’s manifold grace (1Peter 4:10). So that at the end of it all, God gets all the glory, praise and adoration. The service that you perform does not only supply the needs of the Lord's people, but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

I attended the oldest girls’ school in Lagos, Nigeria—Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos. The Motto of my Alma mater is In Love Serve One Another. I learnt about serving others in love from this school.

“The best use of your life is to invest your life in something that will outlast it” – Rick Warren

I truly concur with Rick Warren. The best way to live life is to live such that the echo of the impact of the life lived will continue to resonate long after that life is over. That is the way I want to live my life, in such a way that I will leave a lasting legacy that will continue cause an overflow of praise to God.

Serving The King:
I am serving my King when the things that I do, the services I render, brings glory and honour to Majestic King of Kings. I am serving my King when it is all about Him, about pleasing Him and doing His will. I am indeed serving my King when my act of service is out of submission and obedience to God and not out of convenience.

In everything Jesus did and said, He perfectly reflected the heart of the God. We are chosen by God as His instruments to do His work, to speak out for Him and to show others the goodness of God, that is, serving at the pleasure of our King.

We are serving the King when our act of service reveals God’s attribute of goodness, kindness and generosity to others.

How can we serve our King?
I found a motion song and study for God’s little ones at the titled “Serving The King” written in 1887 by John Hood, which detailed just how every part of our bodies can be used to serve the King of Kings irrespective of how little or insignificant we may think ourselves to be.

“Only a pair of dimpled hands
How can they serve our King?
Some ways of helping others find,
And little love-gifts bring.”

When I live to serve His Majesty, I don’t need self-efforts. I don’t need strive on my own. I only need to surrender every part of my being to the work of the Holy Spirit in me. For it is the Holy Spirit at work in us who points us in the direction of where the needs we can best serve are.

Here and now, I recommit myself to serve at the pleasure of my King. I must live each day of my life to serve His Majesty, the King of Glory, who loves me so much that He gave His only begotten Son for me and kept me by His might hands.

Dear Friends, what about you? What does it mean to you to live to serve His Majesty? How would you commit yourself to live a life worth living, a life that lives behind a lasting legacy?

Honestly, a life worth living is life lived to serve. A life lived just for self or for this moment alone is a wasted life.

Join me to raise 360 gifts items to bring about a 360-degree turnaround for good in the lives of two women. One is an amputee. The other is a wheelchair-bound widow. These gift items will be sold at a Christmas Charity Bazaar in Geneva. Proceeds from the sales of donated gift items will be used to support these two women through the provision of prosthesis, wheelchair and income generating activities.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beyond The Pain To Life Beyond Imagination

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness
– Tommy Walker

It was a Sunday morning. We were getting ready for church. I picked up the huge box of cookies my cousin gave me and said to my husband, “I’m taking this to share with the children in church. I dare not eat this alone.”

He laughed and looked up to heaven.

You're our creator, our life sustainer
Deliverer, our comfort, our joy
Throughout the ages You've been our shelter
Our peace in the midst of the storm

“Blessed be God. Do you remember once upon a time, you had to drink Resource Protein and Energy supplements and eat high-energy cookies?”

How can I forget? For many years, I lost weight so rapidly that my doctors placed me on these not-nice-tasting supplements. I was compelled to drink a bottle twice a day. I remembered how often my husband searched the shops for tasty high-protein high-energy snacks. I remembered how difficult it was for me to eat or hold down what I had eaten. I remembered the awful pain in my tummy after eating, which often left me groaning and rolling in pain.

When we walk through life's darkest valleys
We will look back at all You have done
And we will shout, our God is good
And He is the faithful One

I spent time over the past days reflecting on that season in life’s darkest and lonely valley. I remembered how God has been our peace in the midst of the storm. I remembered how God has been turning it all around. In the past fifteen months, I can eat without the fear of pain. I can eat and hold down my food. I have moved from under 50kg to 63kg. I no longer have to use pins to hold my skirts and trousers at the waist. 

Yes, indeed I do remember the work of God’s hands.

It is apt at this turning point in my life to look back into this decade of my life and consider the goodness and mercies God showered on me. Indeed, I see God’s hands turning ashes to beauty. The haggard and strained visage is gone. I am blossoming again in every sphere of my life. God’s mighty hands brought me out of my long winter season and caused my life and strength to spring to life again. It is a brand new season. God is doing a new thing, and it shall yet break forth. In the month of September alone, I stood and shared my story at many places I could not have imagined just a year ago.

As the old year fades away tonight and  new beginning dawns for me on October 1st, I wish I have a thousand tongues to sing the praises of my Lord and King. How I wish I could employ the host of heaven to join me in adoring my Father and God. He is a good Father to me. He is the epitome and definition of a good Father.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my dear Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.
Composed by Charles Wesley (1739)

Go Beyond The Pain:
Joseph could have become bitter and remained angry after going through the pain of rejection in the pit, the distress of false accusation in Potiphar's house and the despair of abandonment in the prison. But he looked beyond the pain and considered that all the adversity he endured was God sending him ahead to prepare a posterity for his family (Gen. 45: 7-8).

My life story has several chapters of misery, pain, discomfort, and distress, but it is not a tragedy. God’s grace richly abounding to me empowered me to channel my season of pain and adversity to bring about good in the lives of others. If my story can become a means of inspiring hope and pointing others going through adversity to the Supreme Source of hope, then it is not a story of tragedy but a story of victory. My pain is not in vain. My pain is not purposeless.

I am persuaded that our story of pain and affliction can become a source of encouragement to others if we tap into the grace of God that is abundantly available to us. I believe that our season of affliction and adversity can become a unique opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of people in our community for good. I believe there’s someone waiting at the end of our dark tunnel who can derive comfort from our experience if we refuse to give up on hope, and if we refuse to give in to despair but push through to the end.

I have many friends who have suffered the pain and grief of losing a precious loved one. But they have turned the pain to an opportunity to reach out and bring hope to others going through similar experience or ensure that others do not suffer from the same experience. Someone else can derive comfort and be blessed because of what you have gone through this challenging experience, and you have endured through the keeping grace of God.

Dear Friends, there is absolutely nothing you have gone through or still going through that can go to waste. God is using it all to shape you, mould you, and prepare you for the purpose He ordained for your life. I encourage you to look beyond the pain, and you will see how God is working it together for good. You will see God turning it around not only for your good but for the good of many others waiting at the end of your dark tunnel.

There is a grace that is sufficient for every situation that we may find ourselves. Grace is God stooping down to reach out to us at our point of need. He is the God of all grace. After we have suffered for a little while, He will Himself restore us, making us strong, steadfast and firm (1Pet. 5:10). Grace empowers us for victory. We begin to appreciate the import of grace when we are in a dire need of the supernatural ability to live beyond the circumstances and challenges besetting us. It is only the grace of God that can empower us to go beyond the pain of the moment and expectantly look forward to living life beyond imagination.

"Grace abounds like an ever-flowing stream in the valley of adversity."

I have tasted of this GRACE. I can testify of its sufficiency. That is why I can say with confidence and gratitude to God; I am living life to the full again. I am living my dream. I am traveling and talking. My story of over twenty years of being tried in the crucible of affliction has become a testimony touching lives for good. It has become a ministry inspiring hope beyond what I could ever have imagined. It has become an opportunity to enrich lives and galvanize action for amputees and physically challenged persons who do not have access to services that can make life bearable. It is beyond my wildest imagination.

Join me to celebrate life and God's goodness during October (my birth month), by encouraging people around us to GO BEYOND THE PAIN.

Share your story of a season of pain, adversity and challenges, and how God has turned it around for good. Tell us how a difficult season in your life has become an opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of other people for good. Share here on the blog, by email, on the Facebook or twitter.

Please add @Irene Olumese and #GoBeyondThePain to your story when you share on the Facebook or Twitter. That way others can be blessed and encouraged by this one month of #GoBeyondThePain event. 

This blog post includes excerpts from the sermon I preached at HOTRIC, London – Beyond The Pain on Sunday, Sept. 20th and the talk I gave at the Q Commons Talk – Beyond Imagination on Friday, Sept. 25th, 2015.