A Mighty Work in You

Do you ever fall into the mindset that rejections from the world or feelings of inadequacy have bearing on God’s desire and potential to use us for His glory?

If so, you are not alone. I have battled with these thoughts for years as I seek to further God’s kingdom through my vocation. To be honest, I still at times have to overcome the false belief that God uses worldly success to predict His success in us.

But..here’s the reality:

First, God does not see us as the sum of our accomplishments. Second, these “failures” or “inadequacies” don’t have any impact on the way He sees us, nor the ways He will use us.

Why? Because God promises us that He has already prepared and lead the way for us to live out His mission. Ephesians 2:10 says exactly that:

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”

In fact, He often works through us more profoundly in times when we feel inadequate. While our “inadequacies” may feel like stumbling blocks, God uses these exact “inadequacies” as fuel for growth. We become players of something bigger than ourselves.

Take the example of Moses, when God asks him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He is sorely aware of the reality that he is not a leader, nor does he have the gift of eloquent speech.

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

Moses is filled with self-doubt. I imagine he felt in this moment, the same way I often feel. After rejection upon rejection, I am aware of my inadequacies and doubt creeps in. I find myself asking God, “how will you work through me?”

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12, NIV)

God promises Moses that He will equip him with everything he needs and we see just that, as God brings Aaron alongside Moses to help him accomplish His mission of guiding the Israelites out of Egypt.

This summer, when I was studying for the MCAT for the 3rd time, there were days I  felt overwhelmed, inadequate, discouraged and unsure how I could possibly live out God’s calling for me as a healthcare professional. I constantly questioned God as why He had given me this passion for medicine, when I was struggling to do well on this 7-hour-long exam.

But God reminded of this promise: He will never call us to things that we cannot achieve through His help. I read this verse and immediately posted it on my computer as a reminder.IMG_0498

Friends, the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me and for you despite feelings of inadequacy and rejections from the world.

The only thing God asks from us is our obedience and faith. He does not ask us to come to Him with a list of accomplishments and successes.

Therefore, let’s come to Him today with a willing spirit, arms wide open, and walk in His ways in faith and anticipation of the MIGHTY work He is doing through us.

xoxo,

Michelle

The Destruction of Comparison

Growing up as an identical twin, comparison came as an easy way for one to distinguish the differences between my sister and I. “Which one is smarter? Who is more athletic?” they’d ask. “You’re face is slightly rounder” they’d say confidently to one as they stood to examine the minute differences between us. It became difficult for me to stand on my own and examine the unique person that God made me to be without those comparisons circling around in my head. And to be honest, some days, it still is.

I don’t know about you but I can start playing the comparison game and become so quickly wrapped in it’s evils without noticing. Nowadays, social media can so easily capture us and leer us into a world where we start comparing ourselves to the perfect lives presented by others. From proposal videos to dream job announcements, the comparisons begin and seem to never end if you don’t stop them dead in their tracks. Over the past couple months, I have discovered why it is so important to face these thoughts head on:

  1. Comparison distorts our trust in God’s divine navigation.
  • When we compare our lives to others, we forget the unique journey that God has sent us on. It causes us to lose sight of the truth that He has individually designed our paths and is navigating us to the ways which we should go (Psalm 32: 8). It often prevents us from celebrating the special blessings that He has given us individually.

2. Comparison steals all joy .

  • When we compare ourselves to others, we lose our sense of identity as those who have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Our minds become filled with thoughts of inadequacy and self-pity that often times keep us from fulfilling our God-given potential. Our gifts and talents from God may be put to waste when we live lives under the shadow of comparison and we cannot find joy in our own unique advancements for the Kingdom.

3. Comparison prompts jealously.

  • When we compare, jealousy starts creeping into our relationships, even into the ones we consider most sacred. Jealousy so easily prevents us from celebrating others and their achievements. But the Bible warns us clearly of the dangers of an envious heart, as it is described as something thatrots the bones”(Proverbs 14:30). In James 3:16 it says,

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

  • Jealousy not only breaks us down, but removes the peace that dwells inside of us as Christians. This peace that surpasses understanding is the backbone of our Christian walk. Therefore, when we are filled with jealousy, our lives may seem to spiral out of control.

So, enough talking about the destruction that comparison can do. How can we avoid falling into the trap of comparison?

  1. Remind yourself daily about these truths from Scripture
  • Psalm 139: 14: You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. There is no one like you and there will never be a better version of you.
  • Psalm 139: 16: God planned your steps before you were even born. Your journey has been uniquely designed by the Lord. God is good, and therefore the journey He has for your life is good.

2. Start each day with a grateful heart.

  • When we are gracious to God for His blessings, big or small, our heart will naturally overflow with true joy.

3. Stay aware of your thoughts.

  • If you find yourself beginning to compare, immediately stop the thought dead in its tracks.
  • At least for me, once my mind starts, it can go on and on for hours until I find myself feeling broken and discouraged. I end up having wasted an hour, where it could have been spent using my own talents to bring glory to God.

So friends, please don’t let comparison steal your joy today. I have a feeling when we begin to fight against the temptation to compare, our hearts will be filled with pure contentment, as we stand in awe of the unique work that God is doing individually in us and through us each day.

xoxo, Michelle

Defying the Odds

As a current graduate school applicant, I am constantly inundated with numbers and statistics as I wait to hear back from various schools. If I do not consciously stop myself, my mind will drift into a world in which I am calculating the chances of being accepted into a certain program. “I have a decent chance of being offered an interview here with my test scores and GPA” or “there is no way I will be accepted into this school,” I’ll say to myself as I compare my statistics to the average student. I somehow believe that rendering my statistical chances of being accepted will make me feel more at ease. But, time and time again, I find myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed and anxious. More importantly, I find myself moving farther and farther from faith in God’s power and His and perfect plan for my life.

I find it so easy to fall into a mindset and eventual belief that God cannot alter overwhelming odds. But for the past couple months, God has been constantly reminding me that His ways do not run on worldly calculations and statistics.

This last year, my grandfather, previously healthy, suddenly came down with an acute renal infection that left him in kidney failure. Within a month, his health was deteriorating and he had to be put on dialysis. His physicians believed that he would have to be on dialysis for the rest of his life, as it is a commonly known that renal function cannot be regained once it has been lost. At this point, my grandpa had dozens of people praying for complete healing and he remained full of faith that God would heal him if that was His plan. Sure enough, God had more in store for him. In 4 months, my grandfather’s kidney function was partially restored and he was able to wean completely off of dialysis. The doctors could not believe their eyes, as they had never seen anything like this in all of their years of practice.

God had defied the impossible and overruled probabilities in the scientific literature.

And somehow, when this happened, I was surprised, as if I hadn’t read about God already work in this way multiple times in the Bible. The Word of God is filled with stories of the Lord defying worldly odds:

  • David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17): David is able to slay Goliath, a giant, with a simple rock and sling.
  • Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 17): Barren at 90 years of age, Sarah becomes pregnant.
  • Disciples and the 5,000 (John 6:1-16): The disciples are amazed when Jesus feeds 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish (and has leftovers)!
  • Gideon and his Army of 300 (Judges 7): Gideon’s army of 300 men is victorious over 135,000 Midianites.

These are just a couple of the many examples seen in the Bible, the majority of which I heard over and over as a child in church. So why is it so hard to believe that the same God, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, is working in our lives in mysterious ways? In Isaiah 55:8-9, God reminds us of the truth that our worldly minds cannot grasp the odds-defying ways of our Lord:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The one similarity among these individuals from my grandfather to Gideon, is that they all had insurmountable faith that God could do remarkable things beyond all explanation. I have a theory: the bigger one’s faith, the bigger one’s prayer. So, how big are the prayers you are praying?  Are they filled with insurmountable faith that God can work miracles in your life and defy the impossible? Speak your requests with that belief that He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

So friends, when you find yourself weary and worn down by statistics, or forgetful of the capacity of God’s work in your life, look back and remind yourself of the ways in which He has previously demonstrated His power in your life or in the lives of those around you. And finally, go in peace, filled with the truth that we are in the hands of a God that works miracles and allows us with faith, to defy all odds.

xoxo, Michelle

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

Hope within the Waiting

Is there something in your life that you having been waiting to be fulfilled? Is there a trial that you have been struggling with for quite some time? Do you feel hopeless in the waiting, as if God has been silent and unresponsive to your biggest hopes, dreams or requests?

Where is God in this?

If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. There is hope within the waiting.

The other day I was at a inter-generational women’s Bible study and as we read Matthew 9:18-22, I couldn’t help but find deep encouragement within the story of the hemorrhaging woman.  What had been a miracle that I often glossed over, became an immense inspiration as I struggled with the same questions above.

Although little is known about the woman, the Bible tells us that this woman had been bleeding for 12 years. Think about that…12 years of unanswered prayers. I sat and said to myself, “I cannot imagine waiting 12 years for God to move this mountain in my life. I would be filled with hopelessness.

But as we read on in the passage, we see that it is but the opposite for this woman:

“20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)

Two things about this woman struck me:

  1. Her unshakable faith.

Although it does not say, we can assume that there were crowds of people following  Jesus as he worked miracles. This woman’s faith stood out to Jesus among the dozens of people hovering around him–so much so, that she knew that if she merely touched Jesus, she would be healed. Her hope in God and His plan for her life had not run dry after 12 years. She was not bitter nor did she doubt God’s faithfulness at this moment, despite years and years of misery. I hope and pray that I may remain rooted and grounded in faith during long periods of waiting, just like this woman.

  1. God was growing her faith.

Through the 12 years of hemorrhaging, I can imagine God was using this period to grow her faith into an unshakeable one. It reminds me of James 1:2-4 (NIV):

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God was using this trial in her life to develop perseverance so that she could be used as a vessel to bring Him glory as He continued to work in her and through her. I would assume that the many men and women around Jesus saw this miracle and their hearts were changed in drastic ways.

So friends, don’t feel discouraged as you glare at the mountain ahead of you. For many, it may feel like you’ve been climbing it for years, yet you’re still stuck at the bottom of the slope. Find hope in the truth that God is using this time to strengthen your faith, just as He was in this woman’s life. The best part? He sees you, just as He picked out this woman from a crowd of people. God promises never to leave you. Not only has He gone before you, but He is walking alongside you in this journey.