Now, most people like this verse. That’s understandable. It’s a happy ending scripture. Who wouldn’t want to be perfected, established, strengthened & settled?!!!…..a person who’s not willing to suffer. Oh yeah, suffering is step one. That part? We hate that part. It’s painful but necessary; like watching a classic character (Mufasa) die in a classic movie (The Lion King). Yet, we all know that if that struggle hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have a story (or a movie). It’s pretty natural to run from anything that makes you suffer. However, I think that what we tend to forget while we’re running from suffering is that suffering is & has always been a part of salvation. You can’t reign with Christ & not suffer with Christ. Every crown comes with a cross, and chances are that big crowns require painful crosses. So, while I really do hate to start on such a sad note, I have to tell you that something is going to happen that will make you suffer. You will feel pain. You will get hurt. You will be attacked. You will go through struggles. Did you catch that ’s’? That means you’ll have more than one. You’ll also have to suffer for a while. Yep, it’s required by the word. You’ll suffer for an extended period of time. See, like most things in life, suffering takes time. It can last for days, months, and even years. However, before you think that I've just had a bad week & have arrived to ruin yours, this news isn’t meant to discourage you. I didn’t pop up on your phone, computer, etc. to tell you something you’ve already figured out by now. I’m here to tell you that your struggle, your loneliness, your fight, your low point…..is the gateway to what church folks call your ‘next level’. For, according to our scripture today, if you don’t suffer, He can’t perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. What does that actually mean? Ohhhh I’m so glad you asked!
Perfect: The definition of ‘perfect’ is to bring to completion or to finish. Another definition states that to ‘perfect’ something is to make it fully skilled. How does this apply to you? Well, it means that after you’ve spent your time in “the struggle” , the God of all grace will bring you into completion. He’ll make you whole. He’ll restore whatever the storm stole. He’ll make you more skilled in whatever the storm was testing. You’ll look back & notice that you’ve got more than you did when you went in. You’ve got more wisdom. You’ve got a better idea of what to do & what to avoid. You’re better. You’ll be a better person, parent, sibling, spouse, friend, etc. because the God of all grace not only saw your suffering; He used it to perfect you. He used what you thought would break you to build you. He used what you thought would finish you and take you out….to complete you. WHO ELSE BUT GOD CAN DO STUFF LIKE THAT?! Nobody….not one single being.
Establish: To establish something is to bring it into being on a firm or stable basis. It’s to show that something is valid, and/or cause it to be recognized. So not only will God complete you, He’ll validate His completed work. He’ll solidify you. He’ll prove that you are exactly what He says you are, and cause others to recognize you for His glory. It’s hard to see in the moment, but I’ve learned that suffering adds integrity to your story. See, I can tell you He’s a healer because I’ve been sick without a doctor. I can tell you He’s a way maker because I’ve gone months without money, but I’ve never missed a meal or been homeless. I can tell you He’s a deliverer because I’ve struggled with things, brought them to Him, and I’ve seen Him bring me through. Therefore, my struggles have helped me reach people who are now going through what I’ve been through, and He’s used all of that to make me exactly what He called me to be when He put me in my mama’s womb. We don’t need to worry about proving ourselves to people or getting recognition; trust me when I say that after you’ve suffered a while, He’ll establish you and sit you at tables with people in high places….and make them like you.
Strengthen: To strengthen something is to give it firmness, power, or effective force. That’s what strength is: power. Power to push past what used to make you stumble. Power to press when you would’ve given up. Power to shock yourself & do things that you could never imagine. When God strengthens you, He makes you stronger with His power. His power can make your enemies your footstool. His power can raise the dead & heal the sick. His power is so strong that it flows into His name. Just calling on Jesus makes things shift & get in order. His power sees the ‘little people’ and gives them miraculous stories. His power rolls back seas and rivers. His power turns around finances. His power mends broken hearts and wounded souls. His power takes the rejected and makes them rejoiced by the people. His power shifts people into their destines. It gives hope, peace, love & joy. That power, HIS POWER, is used to strengthen you both in and after your storm. You’ll notice that you can handle more than you thought you could. You can do more, and go farther than you thought you could. You can afford things that you couldn’t afford before (in every sense of the term) because He’s strengthened you to stand longer under higher levels of pressure. Just as diamonds crystalize at high pressures, you become the stronger person you were destined to be under high pressure. So don’t panic; it’s not just pressure, it’s an undercover strength transfer.
Settle: To settle is to appoint something, definitely or conclusively. It’s to place in a desired state; to cause it to come to rest. This is my favorite part, because I finally get to tell you that you can rest here. So many times, we are afraid to get comfortable in new levels because we've caught on to the pattern (it’s all good….until it’s not). If you're not careful, life will scare you into safe prayers. You don't want to pray for increase because because you know the cost of increase (why would I pray for a bigger house when bigger houses bring bigger light bills and bigger light bills). But that in & of itself is a trap because the blessings of the Lord make us rich & He’ll add no sorrow (Prov. 10:22). Once this struggle is over, you can settle here. You can unpack, and get comfortable. My first day in my apartment, I walked into an empty space. However, the more I invested into it & filled it with furniture, etc. the more it felt like a real home. It felt like something that belonged to me. I dare you to get comfortable. I dare you to invest into your new level. See, the devil's objective is to scare you from getting into new spaces, and then to keep you from enjoying what God has for you if you manage to make it. So, if you’re going to be scared to move around up here, you’ve essentially defeated the purpose of going through. You went through all of that....to get up here and be afraid? Don’t let him win; take in the full joy of your victory.
You know what? That reminds me of my Mama! See, my mom is a bit of a fighter (she’s saved, don’t worry…too much lol), and I used to hear her say that “you haven't whooped ‘em til you stomped em!” While I’ve never gotten to use that in a physical fight, I’ve used it spiritually a time or two, and it’s honestly pretty fun. Today, and/or whenever you get to your broad place, breakthrough, etc., I dare you to stomp the enemy…and settle in your next level. Just as God told Joshua that He’d give him the land that He put his foot on, I believe He’s saying the same thing to us as He brings us into the final quarter of the year. Stomp on it, suga. Don’t be scared to take what He’s already set aside for you. You’ve suffered enough. You aren’t who you used to be; He perfected you for this. You aren’t inadequate, nor do you lack in value; He established you for this. You aren’t powerless or weak; He strengthened you for this. So stomp in your new level…and let Him settle you here. You can rest here. You can enjoy this season and this space. Nothing in, around or below this world can take what God has given you. Stomp in your new grounds, and settle here.
Background music: I Love This Place - Tasha Cobbs & Beauty for Ashes - Tye Tribbett
| || |