I'm Not Being Punished, I'm Being Prepared

Today as I walked in to church, I was feeling shattered, exhausted, defeated and ready to give up. These are all things that have taken me over in the last couple years and even more so in the last couple months. I walked in and felt that being there was futile and thought to myself "what's the point." But I continually reminded myself that those words were coming from Satan and God had a very different plan for me.

As I sat myself down in the front row like I always do, I felt myself connect with God. People were buzzing around me, but I just sat frozen- and connected. Connection is something that I have a really hard time with, but I felt it so strongly and I knew in that moment that God was holding me.

As the music began to play, I began to cry. My mind is so tired of fighting and my body aches from sadness. But as I listened to the words that were being sung, I realized that this turmoil within myself is not my battle to fight. My God is greater than my pain and greater than any thought I could ever have. As I heard the church singing the words "what a powerful name it is, nothing can stand against. What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus," something within me let go. "Nothing can stand against." Four words that completely changed my mindset on my current situation. My depression, my anxiety, my thoughts surrounding the idea of ending my life.....all of these things are weak compared to my God and that is so darn incredible.

I heard God tell me, "Ashley, I've got this. Just let go." And in that moment, I knew I needed to accept where I am and let God do the rest. Yes it is easier said than done, but it is something that I need to do. Not just to draw closer to God but also to save my life. "Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. It's time for me to rest and let my God do the work that He has promised He will do.

As Pastor Andy began to preach today, I knew this message would be a powerful one. As he began to say things like:

"God leverages the tough things in our lives for His glory."
"the hard things you are going through are not punishment, but rather preparation for something bigger."

"Even when our world is falling apart, God does not leave us or forsake us."

"God will turn my mess in to a powerful message."

"God is not just with me, but He is crafting something amazing within me."

My heart was open and receptive for the first time in a long time. I wasn't only hearing the words that Pastor Andy spoke, but I was absorbing them. As I slowly and gingerly walk through the toughest season in my life thus far, I was reminded today that this season will be brought together for His glory. I may not be able to see the other side of this dark hole, but I was reassured that there is in fact another side. And even though God feels so far away, He is not. I need to stop confusing silence for forgotten. This season of life is just that- a season.

I am awestruck by how big and how good my God is. The words that I heard today were truly life changing. As loneliness, despair, sadness, frustration and hopelessness seep in to every aspect of my life, I now know that I just need to hand them over to God and I need to trust the process. Nothing worth having is ever easy. I know that I will continue to struggle, as that is a part of life, but moving forward I just need to remind myself of what a beautiful, powerful and wonderful Name it is- the name of Jesus.

So next time you find yourself surrounded by darkness, please remember that you are NOT being punished but you are being prepared for something much greater than you could ever imagine. Keep on keepin on and understand that God will NEVER leave you or forsake you. How do I know? Because He has promised that to us, and the God I know stands true to His promises.

Thank You, God for loving me and allowing me to see a glimmer of hope amidst my darkness. I love You.