One thing I wish I knew when I started sharing my faith was that my deepest struggles would become my most powerful testimonies.
I remember when I first invited Jesus into my life and started to walk by faith – that all the books I was reading and all the stories that people told me were so incredible; they gave me so much encouragement and amazement before God’s power.
However, with time, all that excitement gave way to a deep sense that I was both inadequate and a fraud. I felt that although I was preaching and pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus, that because my struggles and pains were still there, I was surely an impostor and a failure of a Christian.
The lowest point for me happened when I was involved in a bus accident whilst I was on my way to register myself to study for a degree in Theology.
The bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a truck that had stopped on the side of the road. As a result, almost 40 people lost their lives, including my best friend.
After that accident I didn’t have any answers for why things had happened in the way that they had, and this led to me battling for many years with depression and panic attacks. I was having the necessary treatment, but things were not improving and God’s call and ministry to my life became more and more distant; I was feeling more and more that I was an imposter and a shallow Christian.
Things started to change, not when I became wholly healed or free, but when I went to preach at a conference, and I was honest about my failures and struggles. Although people there were sharing amazing stories and testimonies, I got up to speak and shared that it was hard even to be there, but that I had faith that God was with me and would help me to get through it.
I remember the reaction on people’s faces when all the excitement and motivation of the conference gave way to the reality that the preacher was in crisis. I thought that this would be the end of any invitations to share and preach at other conferences. However, something happened in that place, and I felt cracks begin to appear in the masks that people were wearing. There was a change in the leaders’ attitudes and I saw real people who were struggling to cope with the difficulties in their lives. That day an avalanche of leaders came to the prayer space – not to hear about the latest technique for growth, but to receive healing and help from God.
Throughout the years, I’ve lost count of how many people I have seen God help and heal. People suffering from depression, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts come to me almost every week, not because I am the best scholar on the subject, but because I have suffered those things and because I am still dealing with them, so they know they can be honest with me.
Remember that God will use you, and although you are not defined by the struggles and pains that you face, he will use them to reach out to other people with the message that he is good and present in the middle of their pain and their struggle.
Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12.9: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’
1 – What masks are you wearing today? In what way might these prevent you from sharing the reality of your life!
2 – Do you need help with your mental health? Have your shared about this with anyone?
3 – What does “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12.9) mean in the situation that you are facing today?
Written by Luiz F Cardoso
Luiz is the Head of Advance Groups and Pastor of Connect Church in Stockport, UK.