This past week, I asked attenders at Cuyahoga Valley Church for some help with my message from Revelation 3:7-13 on “holding fast.”
I asked, “Be honest… Have you ever been so disappointed by life that you were tempted to let go of Jesus, to not hold onto faith? If so, why? And what has helped you ‘hold fast’ to faith, to Christ? How have the promises of God helped you ‘hold fast’?”
The responses from you were awesome.
When you sit by attenders in a worship service, remember that you are surrounded by heroes, by trophies of God’s grace. Ask others about their faith journey. You’ll be encouraged.
We have a church filled with faithful suffering saints. Below are a few of the incredible replies. Maybe their faith will inspire yours.
“Yep! When 2 of my favorite people passed away from cancer. My sister was age 47 and my Dad just retired at 67. Then my Mom passed away suddenly in June of 2017. I realized that I am not in control of life or death, that ONLY Jesus takes away the pain and I believe in the resurrection with the hope to one day see them again in Glory! Trusting in Jesus and knowing HIS plans are perfect and HE is The ONLY one who Saves..gets me through it all! There is life after death of loved ones here on earth who have gone before us but only if you believe in the resurrection! Easter is my favorite time of year.”
“Yes, when I lost the purity of my marriage. Because of my past, I clung on to my marriage as the only pure thing in the life, when that was taken away the despair was unbearable. It would be very easy to let go of faith and just stop. Through Christian counseling and lots of study and time, I came to know that my only purity can be in Jesus. I have nothing in this world to cling to. It’s a tough truth, but indeed truth. When Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. He meant it. Woo hoo!!!”
“When “Christians” told me God’s plan was for me to stay and endure physical abuse. I spent a short time experiencing ptsd and severe depression – walked away from God and started “living hard” – when I quickly figured out that didn’t work, I came back and decided instead of listening to other people’s interpretation of the Word I would find it for myself. Turns out abuse and oppression was not God’s plan for my life and I now know the Word to be able to confidently cling to the real truth – and stay in the light. Now, I am using the lies I believed about myself and God to reach other lost/broken women.”
“I had a heart attack at 46 and laying on that table with strangers all around not knowing if I was going to die or what. Nothing mattered but God! Nothing! I so desperately wanted someone to hold my hand and say it is going to be ok. I kept thinking that God will never leave me, nor forsake me. I tried to talk to people there..lol but they were like, ‘mam we are really busy’ (trying to keep me alive). I just came down to me and God. No one or nothing else. 7 months later 2 more heart attacks and bypass surgery. I felt my life was over. I couldn’t work anymore and the job I had, I loved and God used me there and now my health is gone, my income is less and my husband started to turn away from me to another woman a year half later he left me. I felt like I lost everything, everything I loved was taken away from me, what purpose do I have? It made me cling to the Lord even more. I ain’t going to lie I was angry and depressed but I just kept talking to the Lord and reading his word. Believing he loved me. It is hard at times. I just believe in in his word not my feelings. P.S. My husband is back thank you Jesus! There were times I considered to not pray anymore, that it didn’t matter. But it sure does matter! And to keep singing his praises.
Before Christ… my mom, age 42, died of cancer and left 8 children behind…. I was 19 and 3rd from oldest… youngest sib was 6. I had anger at God and my religion at the time. BUT…. it was that anger that set me on a quest to fill the void in my heart…. on March 20, 1974 I received Jesus’ gift of grace. Church experiences over the years have “done me in!” I’ve learned to keep my eyes on Jesus and off of people, to listen to His voice and move forward when He calls/advises me.
“My desperate struggles with Bipolar disorder shattered all of my former idols and forced me to completely rely on Jesus. His promises gave me hope when I had none. It gave me hope that better days were ahead. Which they were. His Grace was far more sufficient than I ever imagined.”
“When my son was born and I realized it was a death sentence to the life I imagined I would live. Thought God did this to punish me. How I hold fast? I am his beloved child and so is my son. He loves us both so much and I don’t want to turn my back on someone who loves me THAT MUCH! So he didn’t do this to punish me. What promises help me? That he will turn this situation for our good. That if I trust him, he will make a way for Danny and I through this journey….on His pathway, not mine, for His will, not mine. He loves us, period. I trust Him!”
“Yes! When my young son died from a terminal illness–I watched him die inch by inch. It certainly wasn’t “fair”. I was angry and thought I could somehow “hide” it from God. It wasn’t until I finally confronted Him with my anger that I heard Him say, “Now that you’ve been honest with Me we can move forward to what is next”. I had to decide to go forward–to go on–let go of the anger and realize He left me here for a reason. I had to decide if I wanted to really live or to just be alive. I looked back over my life and realized God had never left me and would not do so now even if I left Him. His promises to never leave or forsake me brought me back to Him.”
“I too had great anger at God after my sons death by electrocution which was violent and horrific as I saw it all. Makes me shudder to this day. I was angry so many suffered because of the horrors they witnessed. A dear sister Jackie Deems told me God was big enough to handle my puny anger. By mercy and grace He brought me thru to the other side of the valley of death where I learned to walk above the pain that had hold of this mom’s heart. To God be the glory”
“When I sat in a Dr.’s office 20 years ago and she told me I’d never have children. That changed how I looked at a lot of things forever. He didn’t change. I did. Felt “homeless” for a very long time…..”
“No question, I felt defeated in my battles against temptation,I would ask God for help and would still feel the same and defeated at the end of the day. In the end I would say to whom else would I go He has the words of eternal life,and would visualize myself holding up a shield of faith blindly. The doubts from within we’re overwhelming and scary, and at times I still feel those doubts creep up. I just cry out to Him because I know He is there even when I don’t feel.Him,and He promised to give the Holy Spirit to us if we ask. This has been the darkest time spiritually ever in my life. I am not out of it, but I know He is holding me, there is no one else. The battle is fierce in my life. I know he is faithful because He said He would be ….even when we are faithless, that is an encouragement.”
“More than once my faith was severely tested by a pastor and separately the person who led the bible study that I accepted Christ at and the 2nd by a Pastor caught in a sexual affair with a woman in congregation. Both times I questioned whether Christianity was worth it. The case of the other he was cheating on his taxes and I was the one preparing and signing his return and his wife even yelled at me it was none of my business when I told her what they wanted me to put on the return and sign was false info to evade taxes. She said just mind own business. That severely tested whether Christians were hypocrites.”
“My father died just before my final quarter in college. My first reaction was to go home following graduation to help mom out. I read the verse in 1st Timothy that if one saw a need in their immediate family and had no compassion on them they were worse than an infidel. My spiritual mentor from The Navigators said Mom could take care of herself. He wanted me to go into full time ministry. He said if I didn’t proceed with going into full time ministry that he would wash his hands of me. Became very bitter for a long time, I couldn’t understand why a Godly man would be so ungodly. I felt lonely and abandoned. During that time I saw that God wanted me to just be enveloped in Him alone and stop putting the “white coat” on leaders.”
“When we struggled for so long with infertility & then finally got pregnant & then miscarried. I felt like Jesus had let go of me! I felt like he hated me, like there wasn’t a God. Today: I have overcome many obstacles in my life that have no explanation other than God… what we call “God-incidents” as we don’t believe in coincidence. We had to wait on his timing to grant us our boys! The story of Abraham and Sarah help me stay focused on His promises.”
“I had thought for a very long time that even though I know God is loving, died for my sins, and there’s nothing I can do to deserve it, I kept thinking that I wouldn’t be accepted by God. That He couldn’t love me. I’m horrible person and can’t do anything right, etc. It took a long time and a really awesome Bible study at CVC, that helped me to finally confront that fear and accept God’s grace wholly. It may seem silly or not much of a problem to some, but to someone who grew up in an abusive home it was a huge hurdle to overcome and wouldn’t have happened without God. He is an amazing God who not only loved me through all that, but helped me to forgive and love others.”
“My husband fell into depression four years ago, slept for 6 months straight, no one could help. I waited for a an appointment to open up with his psychiatrist… read Glenn Pembertons book, Hurting WITH God, learning to lament with the Psalms… AMAZING time with Jesus… daily crying, wailing, learning it was okay as many many saints of God had suffered… prolonged suffering… & I was counted among them… AND thru it all… Gods grace was & is sufficient!!!!!!”
“I think we all get to that point at one time or another (bad marriage, holding your child while they suffer, other believers selling you out). But after you have time to ask yourself “what is the alternative” and really think through that to the logical end, it always comes back to the Hope found in Christ. This life is temporary. We need to remember we were bought with a price and on that day, surrendered our will for His. There are so many lives that are touched by the way we navigate through the things that are pressing us down and testing our faith. And come to think about it, if we believe in God’s sovereignty, I’m not sure there is anything we can do to “let go of Jesus.” So if we’re truly in the faith (regenerated), it is really impossible to ever be separated from the love of God found in Christ Jesus aka Perseverance of the Saints.”
“I have been at rock bottom more than once. Praying to God, and believing that He will take care of me has given me a comfort and a warm feeling in these moments that has given me the strength not to give up. And not giving up, learning from my mistakes, and trying the best I could to be consistent has gotten me to a much better place in my life than I ever thought I would be. Having faith is fundamental to having hope. I heard a great quote…. I would rather live my life believing that there is a God, to die and find out that there isn’t….. than live my life believing that there isn’t a God, and then die and find out that there IS.”
“My brother and I were abandoned as babies. When my brother died in Viet Nam, He was only 18 years old. I was 20 years old. I shook my fist at GOD in a drunken rage on the corner of Broadway and Harvard. I lived a dozen years in anger and alcohol. To this day I still struggle with anger! I am not angry with GOD any more,just with myself. When Danny died I lost faith in a LOVING GOD. But like a better man than me, once said, “Where else can I go? Who else can i really TRUST or BELIEVE in?” LORD JESUS/YESHUA I have FAITH, please give me more FAITH!”
“I have just one little thing to share that i feel is incredibly important. As we each walk thru life’s journey there are trials-tears-joy-uncertainties -difficulties and suffering. The Body of Christ indeed is absolutely essential in one another’s journey because iron sharpens iron. We need one another in good times and bad times… to come along side, to encourage, to pray with and for, to redirect and correct. How beautiful is the body of Christ… what a precious gift from God, the gift of one another.”