And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death … Revelation 12:11
A friend of mine became seriously ill about a month ago and had to take off of work for three weeks. During those three weeks, she spent countless nights at the hospital, her husband filed for divorce and one of her children started on a journey of drug use. She was broken, battered and bruised in so many ways.
A few nights ago, as she prepared to return to her job, after this long break, she asked me what she was going to say to her coworkers if they asked her why she had been out. She also expressed that her anxiety was so high that she felt that she was in the midst of an anxiety attack. I paused for a minute trying to answer, but of course, I needed more information before I could answer. So my questions were, “Why are you anxious? Because you are embarrassed? Because of what people will say? Because your ego is bruised?”
She finally admitted that she was embarrassed. Her life has taken a turn that she was not expecting and that with all of her strength and resilience, she was faltering. Well that made me happy. Why? You may ask. Because God says His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we decide to let go of EVERYTHING – God is free to take control. And honestly, we are not in control of anything, anyway!
A few days later, my friend returned to work. She called me on the way and asked me to pray for her. Once again, she asked me what she should say to her coworkers. I paused again, and said have you thought about telling the truth? She remained silent for it seems like a full minute. “She said you really think I should tell these people the truth? They will probably love to see how much life has beaten me down and laugh at me during this time." She went on to say that she was well liked at her job, a leader and that her coworkers looked up to her. "How can I admit that I am at my lowest point – my health is failing, my husband is leaving me and my baby boy is on drugs?” I said, how can you not admit it. You are the perfect candidate to tell your story. Of course, her next question was WHY?
I am so glad she asked. You may be wondering the same thing. The reason lies in Revelation 12:11, we are overcome by the word of our testimony. Plainly stated, when we share our tests and trials, someone who may be experiencing the same thing, can go through it with confidence that you if can handle it, he or she can too. As a little girl, I remember being in church and people would stand up and talk about their problems and then everyone would shout, clap, and cry and then someone else would do the same. I thought it was the weirdest thing. Until I got older, experienced life and took the opportunity to stand in front of the church a few times telling people how good God has been to me.
Many of us have been blessed tremendously – we have good health, healthy children, wonderful marriages, money in the bank, great careers and the list goes on, but if we are honest, for every wonderful marriage, there have been hard days and times that you may have looked to divorce as the answer, but inevitability went through the test and came out better. For every great car, there is someone who remembers taking public transportation to work and from work for months or years; for every beautiful home, there are stories of foreclosures or bad credit that was fixed before the beautiful home could be purchased. The point is, we ALL have a story.
Life has not been without challenges for any of us. Here’s the problem, many of us, “make it” and forget to tell others about the rough patches. I get it. Who wants to remember when there was more month than there was money? Who wants to recall taking buses to work every day? However, think about how the person on the bus stop will feel if you encourage them by saying, “It won’t always be like this”. It could literally brighten a day, change someone’s perspective and ultimately encourage him/her life to keep going.
My friend pulled up to her job and said she wasn’t ready to tell her truth. No judgment here! She asked me again what she should say, I said just tell them about the parts you are comfortable with – just tell them you’ve been in the hospital, but you’re ok. She said, she would go with that. We ended the conversation with a prayer.
Later that afternoon, she called me so excited, she said she had her story all ready to go and she was just going to say she’d had some tests run and she was fine, but she said when one of her coworkers asked, she just started talking about everything. She said she felt like she had diarrhea of the mouth; she was so afraid, but the words just kept coming and she felt free. At the end of the day, several people thanked her for sharing her journey.
I was elated for her. She saw the power of testifying! She saw the impact on others when she told her truth. And regardless of how she thought her coworkers would react, they still loved her. When it’s time and the Lord, lays it on your heart, I encourage you to testify, to “speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.” Remember you are loved and forgiven!