I could have listed abortion, homosexuality, sexual abuse and they still would not encompass all the words that could describe the experiences of women today.
All these life experiences are an “equal opportunity employer” as they can strike all types of women including leaders. God has given you a unique story that is part of his plan for your life and a tool to help equip you as a leader.
We know that these experiences do not “surprise” God. As the Word tell us in Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” When he formed you, he knew exactly what would happen in your life.
I realize that many of you have had good, happy and healthy stories and many have had sad, regretful and unhealthy stories, but I believe that God does not waste any of your life experiences. He uses them all in his plan for your life which includes encouraging other sisters in Christ.
To quote John Ruskin, “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it”. What have you become by the “toil” that you have lived through?
As we value the pain as part of God’s plan we learn it is to conform us to his image. Let’s look at Romans 5:3-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
As the story is told in Luke 8, Jesus led his disciples into and through the storm, knowing it was coming. Does Jesus perhaps lead us into storms in order to grow our faith and to give us opportunities to lean on Him and cry out for help?
As you think about your own story, find a rubber band and put it on your wrist. That rubber band is not very useful just there on your wrist, but as you take it off, stretch it. A rubber band is only useful when it is stretched! Just like this rubberband, you are truly useful to God when you are stretched by both the good and especially the painful times in your life. Please begin praying now, asking God to use your pain to both encourage another woman but to also glorify Him.
I want to encourage you not to think that “no one wants to hear from me” or “what could someone possibly learn or be encouraged from me?” I believe that the enemy will tell you those lies since he knows the power in your story when it’s told with the intent to glorify God. Remember, he does not want anything to glorify God, only himself.
Take an index card and write a few words or a phrase on that card that describes your life. It might read: unsaved spouse, prodigal child, cancer survivor, widowed at an early age, or it might be, sexual or physical abuse survivor, rape victim, or mother of homosexual child.
I would like to as you to ask God to help you let go of the burden of your story and to pick it back up as a banner of his grace and love wrapped in His plan for your life. Then, to see your story as a tool God has given you as you minister to other women. Tell your story and tell it often always giving God the glory for how that “toil” has shaped you.