#006: What is Your BUT GOD... Story?

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Do you see your trials and sufferings as an opportunity to let God shine?

I wanna talk to you about suffering today.
We're not gonna just talk about suffering, we're gonna look beyond how we've suffered and we're going to see how God's been at work. 

Scripture says we will face trials and sufferings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
— James 1:2

It's not a matter of "if" we face trials but a matter of "when".

My question for you is: when you face trials, do you recognize how God shows up mightily?

I wanna encourage you to look beyond your sufferings and see how God's been at work.

I want you to tell me your story of "I went through this hardship, BUT GOD... "?

I grew up in the metropolitan city of Hong Kong.
It's a place where a lot of emphases is put on academic success.
If you don't do well in school, you're considered a loser.

When I was in 5th grade, my teachers decided that I needed some extra time to catch up on schoolwork so they made me repeat 5th grade.

They said they saw hope in me and wanted to give me another chance.

They had good intentions but in my head, I didn't see hope.

I was thinking, "I AM A FAILURE! I'm a LOSER! My classmates are going to look at me and think I'm a loser!"

I was devastated.

But here's what I didn't know at the time about this little trial I faced:
my devastation isn't where my story ends. There's a BUT GOD component in it

I was devastated BUT GOD had a purpose in my repeating school year.

If I hadn't spent an extra year in 5th grade, I wouldn't have met one of my best friends in middle school because she would've been a year behind me.

If I hadn't met her, she wouldn't have given me her Bible when I left home for college.

I wasn't a believer at the time. But I kept it.

A few years later, the Lord opened m eyes to see Him and I finally saw my need for Jesus.

And this friend, this sweet friend who was (and still is) a faithful follower of Jesus became one of my greatest encouragers in my walk with God.

I wouldn't have met her if I didn't fall behind for a year in school.

My pride might have been deflated when I repeated 5th grade. BUT GOD had another purpose in it.

I went to college in Iowa in 2009 where I met some of the most influential people in my life.

I met Emma, who prayed for my salvation when I wasn't even seeking the Lord.

Then the Lord started to draw me in during that first semester at Iowa and Emma was there for my many spiritual questions.

I remember asking her about heaven and hell - who gets to go to heaven and who goes to hell.

Emma also introduced me to Grant, who was to become my husband, the love of my life.

Shortly after meeting Grant, he introduced me to Chelsy.
Chelsy is not only my best friend, she's my mentor, my discipler;
she was the one who answered my spiritual questions for 3 hours the night I gave my life to Jesus. 

All of these wonderful people I wouldn't have met had I not spent an extra year in school back in elementary school.

Showered in His Faithfulness

This is not where my BUT GOD... story ended, there's more.

After we graduated and got married, my brother came and lived with us because he was going to college in town.

After a year of staying with us, he decided he would give his life to Jesus!

And then, fast forward a year, we were expecting our firstborn.

My parents were going to come here to visit - to spend time with us, to help us with the baby and to spend time with their first grandchild.

At the time, my parents were not believers and so we were praying for their salvation, we were trying to live out the Gospel and to really point them to Jesus.

Three months went by and they returned home. But while they were here, I noticed a health decline in my dad.

He was having trouble with his G.I. system. He would go to the bathroom a lot; he wasn't eating very well. He had lost a lot of weight.

His health declined even more so after they returned home.

He was in a lot of pain. My mom tried to get him to see the doctor but he was very stubborn, until one day he was in so much pain that my mom just took him to the hospital.

There, at the hospital, was when they found out he had colon cancer.

It was devastating. I never wanted my dad to have cancer.

After I heard the news, I was thinking, "my dad is not a believer, I don't know what's gonna happen with this cancer. I don't know if he's gonna survive or if he's gonna die. He needs Jesus right now."

Even after receiving the diagnosis, my dad was still very stubborn. He didn't want to go through treatment because he was afraid. He feared the cruel treatment that cancer would bring.

One day, we had a video chat while he was still in the hospital.

I said, "Dad, you can't just lay there and not fight. You have to fight. You have to take treatment. God made you a warrior. He didn't make you to just sit there and give up."

By God's grace, he agreed to receive treatment.

You see, even though my dad was afraid, God was at work during his treatment.

Just a few weeks after our conversation, I received a text from my mom and she said, "your dad and I have decided to give our lives to Jesus."

I was like, "what?!?!"

I kept reading the text over and over again because I was like, "Did this really just happen?!?!"

I was so excited. I was like, "God. Wow. Thank you!! Did this really just happen?!?! Is this for real? God, You know his heart. Is this for real?!?!"

After my dad accepted Christ, he kept going with the treatment. It went well in the beginning, his body responded to it pretty well. He would gain weight and he was in pretty good spirit.

He actually wrote out Psalms - the song of Psalms - as he was going through treatment. 

How amazing is that?!

Even though he was suffering, he chose to fix his eyes on God.
He chose to write out His Word so that he would be thinking about His Word.

 Even though cancer took his life in March 2016, there was beauty in his suffering.

For years, I had prayed for his salvation. I would pray, "God, don't let him die without accepting Jesus."

And God totally answered that. 

Even though he suffered, even though he had cancer, God opened his eyes to see Him so that he would see his need for Jesus, so that he would say "YES!" to God!

How faithful is God!

How much He just wants us.

When it comes to my dad passing, I have a bittersweet feeling about it.

I mean, I never wanted my dad to have cancer. I never want him to go through that but there is joy and hope because God saw him and God took care of him.

God welcomed him into His kingdom with open arms.

It does make me sad that my dad isn't here to watch his grandkids grow up; he's not here to spoil them and play with them and all that... BUT GOD!!

This is his but God story. God redeemed his soul.

Even though cancer took his life - his body I should say - his soul is in heaven forever praising Jesus... how amazing is that?!

Where is God in YOUR STORY?

Did you know that the phrase "But God" appeared in the Bible over 3000 times?

In this life, we will face trials and sufferings but God will not leave us in the valley.
God has a purpose for our sufferings; He can and will make beauty out of the ashes.

What is YOUR But God story, my friend?

What is your story of God showing up mightily in your life?
How has He been faithful?
How has He been your strong tower?
How did He bring you out of the desert?

Trials are hard. But your story doesn't end with your trials and sufferings.
Your hardship is just the beginning of a beautiful story of God's grace and redemption.

Will you take a moment and remember how God showed up in big ways?
Remember His faithfulness and tell people about it.
Give Him the credit He deserves.
Give Him the glory!

If you'd like to share your BUT GOD story, please comment below or email me at maggie@everleighcompany.com. I'd love to hear your story, or, even share it with all the women at Indwelt Women.

Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas