HOW A SEASON OF HELL TURNED TO GOLD In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…(1 Peter 1:6-7) 2020 for Carolyn and I was a year of hell. We are being very vulnerable in these multi-part posts and sharing things that most preachers will not share with you. You see, many ministers hesitate to share their deepest struggles and challenges, because they think it will be a stumbling block to their people, infuse doubt, and won’t help them. I beg to differ. I think the opposite is true. People need to know that ministers are not supermen, but in our humanity are subject to the same weaknesses and infirmities they are. This actually encourages people. The genuineness of our faith is tested in our trials…and nothing else. You can hear the Word, quote the Word, boast in your faith, act like you are a mighty man or woman of God etc., but when the fat meets the fire, you will learn that only in great trials can great faith be birthed and great victories obtained. It touches God’s heart very deeply when we rejoice in times of grievous trials, especially when you don’t fully understand. Get that. If you can overcome the devil’s accusations of God to us during such hardship you are the big winner and your faith will soar. PRAISE Sometimes you have to be like a chicken on a june bug with your praise. Like Paul and Silas in the prison (Acts 16). They prayed but the great miracle didn’t come until they began to praise. Oh! I sense His Spirit on that word, because so many are in this place right now. Praising God in your hardship, trials, and disappointments is not easy on the flesh, but takes great faith. Most of our trials are primarily in three areas: attacks on our physical bodies, relationships, and finances. And faith for all three is a little different. I’ve shared bits and pieces of our physical health challenges with friends, but very little concerning our financial challenges. In short, we have lived from miracle to miracle through the sustaining power of God’s great provision. We were quiet about that part because we had a witness in our spirits not to share it, but to throw ourselves over on the Father’s love and care when the devil was accusing God to us day and night. But we will save that part of our testimony for later, because it is so awesome and will encourage many to trust the Lord more for His great provision and favor in financial matters. Some days all I could say to combat what the enemy of our souls was tempting me with in his constant non-stop accusations against God was to lift my hands and say, “Thank you, Father for your goodness and your mercy.” The devil’s greatest temptation during a season of pure hell for my wife and I was to have us blame God, to let our disappointment lead to bitterness, and to doubt His love and faithfulness to us. LET ME BE BRUTALLY HONEST I must admit there were times when my insomnia was so bad from the stroke, that it drove me to think that it was better to die than live. I was begging for sleep but somehow couldn’t sleep. In a different way the same was true with Carolyn and her excruciating pain from a medical mess-up, and radiation that required 7 surgeries and hard narcotics to kill just a portion of her pain. She did not have one or two or three, but 7 surgeries, but it was her radiation treatments that did the big damage and fried her lower leg so severely, that it not only killed the cancer cells but also muscles, tendons, tissue, and blood vessels. Her pain levels were so unbearable at times that she would tell me she didn’t want to live any more. After my condition greatly improved from the Electroconvulsive treatments and I was discharged from the last hospital I was in I spent several nights up with Carolyn and a couple of times had to rush her to the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning. And even at this writing, she is still not walking properly and cannot be on her feet for too long without pain. Slowly she is being weaned off her pain medication, and yet still manages to travel with me in ministry. ROLLER COASTER EMOTIONS Honestly, my emotions would fluctuate between utter helplessness and brokenness and then anger and yelling at God. “God, don’t you care?! Where are you?! I can’t take this any more?! This is so cruel?!” Praise was not in my heart during such times. It was so hard to see my bride in excruciating pain. And the Father would comfort us and reassure us that He was carrying us and that the glory was coming. I’ve shared the scripture that I kept close to my heart all this time but it bears sharing it again, because some may need it right now. Here it is: “You have been carried by Me from your birth and been carried in My arms from the womb, even to your advanced age I will carry you! I have made you, and I will carry you; be assured I will carry you and I will save you.” (Is. 46:3-4) Oh how I’ve grown to love this word! This scripture was such a comfort to me. I still weep when I read it and ponder the depths of it. Oh, how He loves us and cares for us even when we don’t understand what we’re going through. We trust Him because we know Him as Father. I get choked up every time I call Him Father now, and that age old Christian hymn comes rising up in my spirit, “Great is Thy faithfulness”… and I weep some more and then laugh with joy unspeakable and full of glory. This has been my sustaining power during this hard season. More gold to come in Part 6. Caption: Early morning flights are not her thing, but she’s been a trooper. Coffee please! LOL!