Becoming a Disciple of Christ Part 4

Walking Deeper in God


Nita LaFond Johnson

New Orleans 2009 Revival Services

This message is about the journey of walking closer to God and entering into deeper places in Him. It is amazing that, for the most part, the Church does not fully understand that the heart of our calling is to know Him. There are many people who pray and call themselves intercessors. Sometimes, they pray for extended periods of time, yet, when they exit the prayer closet, they live their lives as if they had never been in His presence. Then they wonder why God is not opening the door of relationship, insight and understanding of Himself. The truth is that, in some cases, He cannot give them the enjoyment of an intimate relationship with Himself because of their character. Prayer is chief if one wants to walk with Jesus in the high places; it is absolutely critical because no one enters into the heart of God by any other means. A love affair with His Word is also very important, so combining a prayer life and a Word life as the foundation for our salvation is critical to achieving a life of intimacy with our Savior. We must build upon this relationship with godly character, and if you want to go into the deeper levels of God, your character must correspond in an ever-increasing way to His. If you want to go high in God you must go low before man and God, just as the Bible tells us: humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up in due season.

Often, in the Church, we see man lifting himself up. As man lifts himself up, the Bible promises that God will humble him. It is profound wisdom to humble yourself since He is in the business of lifting up. The best position that you can assume in your heart when walking with God, is to be on your face. We need to “walk prostrate” before Him, fully aware of our deep need of Him: of His grace, love and wisdom. Then, you simply will not have inclination to lift yourself up.

Most are familiar with Kathryn Kuhlman and her ministry. Many things were said about her during her last days here on this earth, some good and some bad.  One thing I can say for sure is that God used her mightily. She walked in an anointing that I do not think anyone else has touched since her passing. She had a tremendously powerful presence of God that rested upon her life – not just an anointing, but such a presence that when you walked into a service you were not experiencing an encounter with Kathryn Kuhlman as much as an encounter with the presence of God. This, to me, has a far greater weight than simply carrying an anointing. Before she came to the pulpit, she would go behind the stage to a secluded area  to pray. One particular day, while she was in prayer, a Catholic priest somehow managed to stumble into her hidden prayer spot, entering the room unbeknownst to her. He found her plastered against the wall by the presence of the Lord crying in tears of anguish, “I am nothing! Nothing but Your humble servant! Lord, do not take Your Spirit from me!” She humbled herself and humbled herself; she wept, pleaded and begged, ”I am nothing without You, I can do nothing without You; please do not take Your Spirit from me, let me have Your Spirit this night! I need You. These people have come from all over the world, not to see me but to see You; please let me have Your Spirit!” In her tears of anguish she would keep crying out that way until His Spirit would come upon her and she would collapse to the floor under the weight of it.

I have heard negative things said about her; I do not really listen to any of them. Anyone who stands behind the stage and cries out to Him like that has true wisdom in their heart. If she has made mistakes, they were forgiven each night. She never came out on the  platform without Him. I think that if the members of the Church would have the wisdom of Kathryn Kuhlman, the Church would be in a much better place.

When we lift ourselves up, we can expect God, out of His love, to bring us down. If you do not walk very close to Him, you may continue to live with this false puffed-up perception of yourself and never truly be connected to Him in your lifetime. You may end up in Heaven, but at the lowest level, just barely making it in. When you pass on, people might not have much to say about you other than that you were a Christian and hopefully made it to Heaven. But if you really want God enough to be changed for the sake of that relationship, you will be continuously humbled and He will put you in the most humiliating circumstances to show you your need for Him – all because He loves you. Sometimes, the only way we can learn about the pride in our lives is to be put into places where we have to come to grips with this fantastic force we call our identity.

If going deep in God is not important to you, the disciplines are not many, though you will have trouble in this life. The Lord promises that when He says, “I send you into the world and in the world you will have tribulation; but do not be afraid, because I have overcome the world.” He promises us that there will be trials and struggles, simply because we live in the world. The Bible refers to our journey on Earth as the iron furnace; because we are in the furnace, we live in the open fire whether we like it or not, whether we are saved or unsaved. There is no way around the difficulties but, praise God, for those who belong to the Lord He has overcome the world for us.

Just because you have trials does not mean that everything is okay between you and God. It is really interesting, but you cannot ever tell for sure why a person is suffering. Different teachers will try to explain suffering in different ways. One teacher will say that you are suffering because you are in sin and decide that every Christian who is suffering today must be in sin. Another will preach that if you are suffering, it is because you are walking close to God. Yet another might say that if you are suffering, it is because there is a devil in the world and you just need to get your faith together and overcome him. When you finish listening to all these teachers you can be left totally confused as to why you and all the Christians around you are suffering. Are the reasons for suffering always the same, or can they be different? Are any of these reasons even true? The most important thing for us to remember is that we are not to judge where our brother stands because, unless the Lord specifically reveals it to us, we do not really know. However, one thing He has promised to all of us is that in the world there will be tribulation. But do not be afraid, because He has overcome the world.

This one thing we can put inside our head and never have to remove it: we will have tribulation in the world, but Christ has overcome it; so no matter what happens in our life, we do not have to fear. If there is tribulation or suffering, we do not have to be afraid. If there is suffering in our life because God is disciplining us so that He can allow us to walk closer to Him, we do not have to be afraid. He has already brought us through. If there is suffering in our life because there is sin that we have not yet let go of, we still do not need to be afraid; we only need to repent and He will bring us through.

Regardless of why we may be suffering today, we have the joy of knowing that our Lord has gone before us and He will bring us through. However, there are certain things that He wants us to look at, consider and dearly prize if we want to make the most of our sufferings.  We are in the world and in the world there is suffering, so as long as we are in the world we are going to suffer. What we need to do is learn from our suffering because it will be unavoidable until we go to Heaven. I feel that this is an important thing to remember, because a lot of Christians deep in their heart believe that if we are in Him, we should not have to suffer. We see this demonstrated in our typical response to suffering: we get angry with God, the situation and whoever is trying to bring suffering into our life. I want you to know that anger is a reflexive response that every human being experiences when they are afraid or feel guilty. When you face situations that bring either fear or guilt, our natural response is to get angry. Only those who have gone through the refining of the Holy Spirit which purged the reflex of anger out of their soul life will go through difficult situations in humility; the rest of the world and Church move into anger in such humbling times.

Now, because God understands this about us, He does not stand there ready to extract the last ounce from us because we are human. However, because anger is an open door to the enemy and it cuts off the grace of God from your life, He wants to help you through this process so He can do the refining in you, thus denying the enemy access into aspects of your life. This is why meekness and humility are so important; in humility and meekness you have His grace.

When you walk in love, His grace is ever present; when you lift yourself up in pride, anger, resentment and rebellion, grace cannot flow because you have blocked it off and have closed the funnel which enables God to pour out His grace to you. There is no grace there, and it is your fault because you are not doing what the Bible tells you to do. Overcoming pride, anger, etc is something we have to learn to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is normal for a Christian to be confronted and to get angry; however, it is not spiritual.  It takes time for a Christian to move from the carnal to the spiritual nature and God understands this, but He does want to give us hope that we can look toward at the end of the road, so He calls us to meekness. Meekness is not easy to attain, neither is humility; both of these incredible virtues are so highly prized in Heaven because of how difficult it is to attain them, and the Lord knows the price you must pay, the decisions you must make, the battles you must fight, and the death you must die to enter into the virtues of humility and meekness. These are two of the most highly valued virtues in the entire Kingdom, and therefore worthy of the battle.

In the previous message I shared that in order to posses meekness, there must first be the fear of God. If you want to know how to enter into meekness, the first thing you must pray for with all of your heart is the fear of God. The greater the fear of the Lord, the meeker and more humble you are. If you do not have the fear of the Lord, even if you are be born again, chances are that you have a lot of pride which will get you into a lot of trouble. The fear of the Lord secures you like an anchor in the virtues of meekness and humility.

I can remember one time when I was going to speak in an afternoon service. During my preparation, the Lord gave me a word for the church – the hardest word I had ever received up to that time. He told me the sins that this church had entered into and that He was preparing to withdraw His Spirit and close it down if there was no repentance. Because I knew the pastor had just recently lost his sixteen year old daughter in a tragic car accident, I was hesitant to give this word in the church, so I just kept praying in my heart. I could not make up my mind whether or not I was going to give the word. I wanted desperately to please the Lord, but my heart was crushed thinking about the recent tragedy in the Pastor’s life. The Lord dealt with me all morning and finally, before I left, the hand of the Holy Spirit came upon me so profoundly that I was trembling to the point of barely being able to walk, let alone do anything else. The Lord said to me, “You will deliver this message tonight when I tell you to deliver it.” I could only reply, “Yes Lord”.

We got to church and were sitting in the worship service. I am such a coward; I hate confrontation and I was telling God, “I just cannot do this, my heart is breaking for this man. He just lost his sixteen year old daughter. Please do not ask me to do this, especially in front of the entire church. If I must do it, at least let me do it privately.” I kept on pleading like this for a while, when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared above me, His majesty emanating from Him. As His majesty emanated from Him, my hands flew up in the air. The very cells that comprise my body were worshipping Him. My whole being began to shake; every part of me became fully alert, worshipping Him and His majesty. He said to me, “I have spoken to you for the last time, you will give this word tonight!” That ended all the controversy in my soul because now I feared God more than I feared man. When you fear God you will obey Him even in the most difficult situations.

Obedience is never meant to be easy. The more important the step of obedience, the harder it is going to be to obey because you know instinctively that your flesh is going to die a little bit in the process. You may not know exactly how much, but you know it will. Obedience is designed to refine you, reduce the power of your flesh and soul, so that a greater dependency upon God may develop. He purposely gives you tasks you have to obey that stretch you beyond where you are as a person.

I can remember when He instructed me to write my first book. I thought I was going to have to go to school and take some sort of writer’s training class. I did not know how to write; grammar simply was not a good subject for me. I sat before Him crying, as if the Lord was unaware of my plight. I prayed and asked Him to give this to someone else who was skilled in writing because they could do a much better job than I, but if He would not pass this assignment on to someone else, I asked that He would at least help me find a good writing course. All day long I argued with Him and that night He spoke to me in a dream (which is rather embarrassing and I share this in all humility). In the dream, there was a library where you could sign up for writing classes. As I walked into the building I was limping horribly. I had a polio brace on my leg. I stepped up to the main desk to inquire about a writing class. The man behind the desk said, “The writing class is not open or available to you.” I asked, “Why?” “Because,” He said, “You were assigned the task of writing a book and the talent already is within you; now go and do it!” I turned around and limped out.

Many months went by with me continuously fasting and praying. I dared not even write a single chapter until Jesus would appear to me and talk to me because I was so scared I could not convey the message effectively. Finally, after continuing this cycle for many months, I published a book called Overcoming Life through Prayer. The first time the book was published by Whitaker House under the title Victors Wreath; a book on prayer. So I began my lofty career as an author out of pure obedience and terrible fear. Obedience is designed to make you more dependent upon Christ; if it is difficult, it is supposed to be. If it is not difficult, you do not need Him.

Another example of obedience in a spirit of dependence upon the Lord is pulpit ministry. I am probably one of the shyest people in the world. The thought of speaking in front of more than one person was the most terrifying thing in the world to me. If I told you what I went through for the first ten years of my ministry every time I had to get up to the pulpit, you would probably wonder how I even survived. I was so extremely shy and an introvert on top of that. These two qualities are not exactly helpful in pulpit ministry. So He called someone who is seemingly not created for pulpit ministry and He told her that she is supposed to be in the pulpit. I tried bargaining, telling God that since I felt I was made for solitude, I could be assigned a good intercessor’s job. I could pray for all the ministers in the nation. I wanted to be alone, behind the scenes and far from public view. Finally, He told me that if I refused to answer the call on my life, I would not fulfill my life’s purpose and would die early because the call was so critical. When you push through all of your natural instincts to disobey and choose to obey, He is developing in you a spirit of meekness and humility. These are necessary qualities in order to survive some of the calls to obedience. For me, this was the hardest thing in the world I could possibly imagine; the only thing more difficult would be to be president of a country. Of course, I might be able to be president if I did not have to talk to anybody!  J

When He calls you out of yourself and into Him, it requires you to walk a path of obedience through which He can develop in you the spirit of meekness and humility so that you can walk closer to Him. If you have all the gifts and talents and you know it, you are in trouble. Furthermore, you are trouble for the Church. The call may genuinely be there, along with the gifts and talents, but the more self-confidence you have, the less need you will have of Christ and the Church will pay dearly for your self-confidence. This is why He must develop humility and meekness within His servants and this can only be developed through dependence on Him. He will continue to bring you into situations where you cannot depend on yourself so that you come to the full realization of the truth that without Him you are nothing. When you finally get that down and know it deep within your soul, many of your trials will come to an end because your trust is finally transferred from yourself to Him.

Inner meekness and humility in a person are beautiful – they are the opposite of pride. When you walk around with your chest puffed out and get offended when people do not appreciate your wonderfulness, that is pride. When you finally come to a place where you are broken and no longer depend on yourself, your self-sufficiency has been transformed into dependence on Christ, then you are humble, meek and no longer living for yourself.  To create meekness in you, He is going to bring you through trouble; He loves us so much that He is takes us through suffering.

Many years ago there was a group of people who thought that coming out of Egypt was going to end all of their suffering. They were so naïve about this journey and they just knew that once they got rid of Pharaoh, everything was going to be beautiful. The great God that delivered them from the fiery furnace was going to take them to the Promised Land. Never again would they experience any discomfort or suffering and, according to their plans, they would move into their new houses within two weeks. However, as they went out into the desert, things started going wrong. Their fearless leader went up into the fire and was presumed to have been devoured by the flames, so they decided to create another god to take them back to Egypt. Lesson one: there is going to be suffering in the desert. Because they did not understand this, instead of humbling themselves and waiting for their leader to come back down the mountain and listening to what he had to say, they made themselves a ridiculous golden calf to take them back to Egypt. If the worst thing that ever happened to you in this life was that your leader disappeared for forty days, you have got a wonderful life. However, they did not agree. They thought this was an omen, that Moses was gone and they needed to head back to the land of Egypt from which they had just been delivered hoping that Pharaoh did not kill them.

Can you see the illogical thought patterns going on here in their rebellion? Trouble came and they they got angry, made their own god and swiftly rebelled against God’s constituted authority in their lives. As a result, they had to go through severe discipline to which, incidentally, Moses was also subjected, even though he did nothing wrong. Everyone was troubled as a result and, as though that was not enough, they also complained about not having the proper diet! They liked the leeks, meat, quail and water in Egypt. They complained and groaned against God and Moses crying out that He only delivered them from Egypt to take them into trouble in the desert. They were so preoccupied with complaining that they did not even realize that God, the One who brought them out of Egypt, was still there up in the clouds. The people were unhappy with Moses and God, so they rebelled.

Then, we see Israel complaining again at the waters of Marah. They moaned, groaned and rebelled. Did Moses take them to this place without water? No, it was the Lord, visibly leading them by the cloud. He took them to the place of trouble, suffering, hunger and thirst. Their complaining was so relentless that the Lord had to discipline them again. Of course, He provided the food, the water, the leader and everything else they needed because He Himself was with them in the cloud taking them from trial to trial. As if it was not enough that they had issues with food, water and a disappearing leader, they also had another serious problem: in their weakness, their enemy was closing in, about to devour them. So what does Israel do? They murmured, complained and rebelled while God remained present in the cloud above them. And in their murmuring and complaining it never dawned on them that it was God Himself who was putting them though all of these trials so that He could defeat their enemy in front of their face. They still did not understand God’s ways and instead walked in their own ways and rebelled.

Another example is Kadesh-Barnea. Here, they were given the opportunity to take the Promised Land. Remember, they had gone through trial after trial, each one designed by God to take them to a place where He could show them where they were walking in their own personal wisdom and sovereignty, and direct them to the mutual relationship of trust to which they were called. Trial after trial, God came through every time. Finally, when they reached Kadesh-Barnea and God told them to go in and take the Promised Land, they distrusted the Lord and rebelled again, forgetting that the cloud above their heads brought them to this place. They forgot that it was God who had given them the instruction they needed, bringing them to a place where they were fully capable of obeying and accomplishing what they were there to do. Rather than all the trials producing in them meekness, as God had intended, instead, pride, anger, self-serving, self-righteousness and self-sovereignty continued to grow in them, until it had grown to the point that it became impossible for God to deal with them. Instead of taking their Promised Land and going into Kadesh-Barnea, they rebelled again. All of the trials and opportunities they had been afforded to learn humility and develop meekness had been lost on them – they failed every time. So when the big test came, they failed once again.

I highlight this particular lesson from the history of Israel because what happened to them happens to us all the time. Trials and tribulations come into our lives. Where’s the cloud? It is above us! Just because we are suffering, do we really believe that God is not there and that He has forsaken us – because things are difficult? Do we think that He is angry with us or has abandoned us because we are now in a world of tribulation? Meekness bows its knee and after bowing its knee, it bows its head and says to the Lord, “Thank you for my trials. It is not easy Lord, and You already know that. And I know that I am learning through this. It is difficult, but thank You that in Your love we are here together in the midst of my suffering. I will embrace the trial because it is Your hand that has carried me here.”

You might think that you are going through a trial because you disobeyed, but even in your disobedience, God is in the trial with you. He is teaching and training you and He does not abandon you because you disobeyed. If you will allow Him to, He will develop in you meekness and humility. It is important, however, not to harbor anger or resentment in the process. It is difficult enough to go into a trial and have others judge you. People who you thought were great friends, judge and desert you. What do you do in response? You get angry because they do not understand; you hurt and they are not supportive. As a result of this rejection, you get bitter and even hate the one that rejected you and make a vow to hate that person for the rest of your life, not realizing the degree to which such a vow will negatively affect your relationship with God. All the while, you do not even realize that He is the One helping you through this trial. When you judge your brother, you automatically judge God and bring judgment upon yourself the moment you release ungodly judgment on another human being. The very same judgment which you have put upon them comes upon you by the hand of God so instead of learning meekness and humility you are learning pride and idolatry.

The best way to get out of the enemy’s territory and stay in God’s territory is to understand that every test is designed to bring you closer to God and develop in you the virtues that He loves so deeply. When you finally get to that place, you stop talking about how everyone has offended or disappointed you. Instead, you bow down before the Lord and thank Him for the trials and acknowledge that His grace is the way through it and out of it.

Job 36: 13 But the godless and profane in heart heap up anger [at the divine discipline]; they do not cry to Him when He binds them [with cords of affliction]. 14 They die in youth, and their life perishes among the unclean. 15 He delivers the afflicted in their affliction and opens their ears [to His voice] in adversity. 16 Indeed, God would have allured you out of the mouth of distress into a broad place where there is no situation of perplexity or privation; and that which would be set on your table would be full of fatness. 17 But if you [Job] are filled with the judgment of the wicked, judgment and justice will keep hold on you.

We are not talking here about a man who scraped his knee; we are talking about someone who lost all his children, cattle, business, friends, health and, in the end, even his own wife turned against him while his friends sat around him pointing the finger. This man was in anguish and his suffering had been horrendous; nothing had gone the way it was supposed to go. This is a man who would offer sacrifices every day on behalf of his children just in case they have sinned against the Lord. He was a true priest of his home who loved the Lord and his family. He was a sage that sat at the city gate, highly respected in the community for his goodness and righteousness. This man lived an impeccable life, and for all of this impeccable living, he was thrust into probably the deepest suffering and sorrow that any human being in the Bible ever suffered. And what did he do? He did what everyone else does: he got angry and began to blame people around him and God. So in the scripture above Elihu is saying to him, “Job, if you are filled with the judgment of the wicked then judgment and justice will keep hold on you. Let go of this false thinking of God; let not your anger entice you to scorning which will lead to further chastisements from God and let not the immense suffering you have been called to walk through turn you aside.  Will all your moaning and groaning be sufficient to keep you from distress or will all the force of your strength allow you to avoid this trial?” Job was being corrected with regard to his desire to just get it over with and die. “Turn not to iniquity for you have chosen the iniquity of complaining against God rather than submission in affliction.” Anytime you complain about your circumstances or the people involved, no matter how much they have hurt you, you are complaining against God and you are in rebellion against Him.

Pride complains, humility and meekness submits. One of the most beautiful Scriptures in the entire Bible is Job 36:22-24:

Job 36: 22 Behold, God exalts and does loftily in His power; who is a ruler or a teacher like Him? 23 Who has appointed God His way? Or who can say, you have done unrighteousness? 24 Remember that [by submission] you magnify God’s work, of which men have sung.

Every time you moan, groan and grumble because you do not think that things are going the way they should, you are in rebellion against God instead of in submission to Him. Whenever you move away from submission, you are moving into pride and away from meekness and humility. Yet it is upon these two virtues that the nature of Christ must be built. You are giving into the demands of your soul and you are moving away from the strength of your spirit. When something bad happens and you forward a mass email to all your friends letting them all know just how terrible you are being treated, you are  yielding  to the soul. This type of activity will not lead you into the deep things of God. Rather, you are shutting down and weakening your spirit, shutting out grace, and walking away from the throne of Divine courtship instead of to it. The reason some people can pray and pray without ever maturing is that every time they come out of the prayer closet they have not shed the things that God cannot tolerate. Even though God may answer many of their prayers, they do not necessarily have favor with Him in the area of divine romance. You must walk in humility and meekness if you really want to have favor with God. The more that the fear of God rules in your life, the more you will be thankful for everything that crosses your path. The more humility and meekness you will possess, the quicker God will move you out of your trials.

Consider this man, Moses, in contrast to the children of Israel. Trials and disciplines are sweeping through the camp, men are being mowed down in the desert like dandelions as a result of divine discipline. Korah and his sons think that they are something special. However, when they rise up against Moses, God’s constituted authority, the earth splits open and swallows them up. Even then, you do not see Moses going to God complaining about those who keep rebelling against his authority. Because he is the meekest man on the earth, he goes down on his knees and intercedes on behalf of those who are challenging him, pleading for God’s mercy. The sons of Korah go under the earth and Moses goes higher in God. Where do you want to walk? Do you not understand that whenever you move into a spirit of murmuring and complaining, instead of getting God’s blessings you are getting His discipline? Instead of your spirit growing stronger, your soul rules and takes you further from God.

In this life we are on a path to learn Christ, and in order to learn Him God must develop in you meekness and humility. When meekness and humility are fully developed in you, you will have learned to praise Him for all things. I can remember , how I wished I could have understood the lesson twenty eight years ago when the Lord said to me, “Nita, I am in all things.” I was so new in Him at that time, looking around at the flowers and clouds, trying to understand what He meant by in all things. I now see that He was trying to tell me that no trial was going to come that He was not in, and that He would carry me through and bring me out if I would just stick close to Him. Even when I thought I understood it; I did not understand it very well. It took me a long time to really learn this lesson. I wish I could tell you that I am now there one-hundred percent, but that wouldn’t be true. I must learn it again and again. The minute I realize I am in another trial, I have to stop worrying and complaining in my heart and get on my knees and thank Him for the trial.

Now, because I have worked so hard to learn this lesson, and believe me, I have, the Lord has also worked very hard to help me learn it. I talk about only a part of the following visitation in my book Prepare for the Winds of Change ll. This happenedduring one of the worst times ever in my life. My little granddaughter was suffering terribly, my daughter and I were fighting with  all our resources to bring her to a place of refuge and we could not do it. It was horrible; my granddaughter was not even three years old when the trial began and it was not the kind of trial anyone should have to go through, let alone a young toddler . During this time, I was driving down the highway, hurting so badly. I said to the Lord that when I get to Heaven I want to give Him my faith in the form of a beautiful chalice. I wanted it to be ornately decorated. Even though in the natural I generally like plain things, I wanted it ornate, symbolic of all the trials I had to go through in my life to learn Christ, each design speaking of His love and beauty.

As I was crying hard, He suddenly appeared, sitting on the seat beside me. As I was driving down the highway with Jesus sitting next to me, He leaned over really close to me and I saw that He was crying. I could not bear to see Him cry, it was tearing my heart apart. I said, “Lord, why are you crying? Please stop crying; I cannot bear to see you cry. I love you so much; I cannot stand to think you could be hurting bad enough to cry like this. Please, stop crying.” He then leaned over and looked deep into my eyes, so deep that He could see down into the depths of my soul. I cannot tell you all that He said, but I will give the general idea. “Nita, I know your pain, I feel it every day.” I said, “How? I thought there were no tears in Heaven. Lord, please, I do not want you to feel my pain, I do not want you to hurt like this. I would not want this pain on my worst enemy, let alone the person I love more than life itself. Please, I do not want you to hurt like this; please stop crying.” He replied, “I will have it no other way. I feel the iron furnace every day; I feel the pain of everyone who belongs to me every day. I live with it while they are suffering. Before you ever suffer or weep one tear, the trial you are going to go through has to pass through me first and I must approve it. When I approve it, I also approve the grace I will give you to make it through the trial, knowing that I am going to walk through it a second time when the trial comes upon you.” He calls earth the iron furnace. Now I was crying so hard I could barely talk, “I cannot handle knowing You hurt like I am hurting right now. I love You so much and I would do anything to take the pain away. I will quit hurting so that You do not have to hurt. Please!” He said, “I will have it no other way; it is My desire to suffer with you.”

Then He looked into my eyes, so deeply that I knew He knew everything about me, and slowly began to smile. As His smile got bigger and bigger, His face became transparent and the glory got brighter and brighter. The bigger His smile, the greater the glory shined from His face. I said, “Lord, You are smiling, why?” He said, “Nita, thank you for being willing to suffer for Me; not many are, but you are willing to let your faith be tried as gold. Thank you.”

Now, regardless of whether we are willing to suffer for Him or whether we are not, we are going to suffer, because in this world there is suffering. Not only are we going to suffer, but our Lord Jesus Christ is also going to suffer; it is His choice. It is a choice He makes out of love. Because He loves you, He will not let you suffer alone. He is allowing your suffering to refine you, to bring you into Himself, knowing that every tear you cry and pain you feel, He is going to carry it with you. You will never hurt on this earth, not even one day, that He does not hurt with you, feeling your pain. However, in His great love, He is going to allow you to go through the suffering, knowing what it is going to cost Him. For He knows that, in the end, He will have more of you than He ever could have had you not suffered through your trials. This is divine love. He is trying to teach us His ways and I love it when the Bible says, “There is no teacher like Him.”

There is no teacher like Him. Part of the learning process may hurt. It hurts to get a tooth pulled! The dentist standing in front of you will never feel the pain of that extraction, but your Lord will. In His great love, He will remove what is not good so He can have more of you. Do not run from God or the suffering; humble yourself like a little child. When a child is hurting and suffering, where does he go? He runs to mommy or daddy and seeks to hide in the arms of the one he believes will protect him. Do not run from God; run to Him. Hide in Him; know that He understand your weakness, fears, pain, sorrow and, as you hide, do not judge the source of your suffering. Instead, love the source of your suffering. Learn meekness and humility in the way of Christ.

Remember, I started out this series by telling you that if you will obey the Sermon on the Mount, every verse and page, you can go as deep in God as you could ever want to go. Now I am telling you specifics of how you have to change the way you see and respond to things so that you can have more of God helping you in your trials and know Him better when each trial is over.

I would like to share one more story. My daughter, Ricci, had gone through a horrible trial. Nine surgeries in three years, terrible physical suffering. The last surgery she had, for reasons none of us understand, when she came out of surgery they did not give her any pain medication. While we were trying to find the doctor to find out why she was coming out of her major surgery and given nothing to help her with the pain, Ricci was going through the worst of her trial. She awoke to such pain that she could not cope with it and began to lose her mind. She felt herself going down a long tunnel; she thought of her husband and her children and was saying in her mind, “Goodbye; I am dying because I cannot cope with this pain.” All she could do was say the name of Jesus over and over. She felt herself going down a long tunnel, getting further and further away from her husband and children. She was losing her mind and had no will to live. When she knew she could not take one more moment of this intense pain, the Lord Jesus Christ came and gave her the gift of compassion – in that moment He imparted it into her heart and soul. She said it came into her like liquid; she felt herself come back from that tunnel and then she heard the doctor say, “Well, how’s my girl doing?” Her husband said, “What do you mean how’s your girl doing? They will not give her any pain medication for all this pain she is in from the surgery!” At this, the doctor looked at the chart, turned red, ran out of the room, went to the nurses’ station, yelled at them – Ricci and her husband could hear them all the way down the hall – “Get medication into her now before she loses her mind! Too much was done to her!”

They came running in with the medication she needed. However, in the midst of the worst moment of her trial when she really was going to leave us, God gave her the gift of compassion.  Anyone who knows Ricci will tell you that they have never met anyone with such compassion. When she prays for the sick, they get healed because of the compassion of Christ that flows through her.

There is a purpose for every suffering under Heaven and everything you are called to go through is for the purpose of making you into the image of Christ. When the suffering comes, do not run. Instead, humble yourself, climb onto the lap of the One who loves you best and let Him bring you through.

In Him,

Nita Johnson