Your Trial, Your Platform

rachel-caneRecently I saw a family friend and he said something that I didn’t expect to hear. Something that deeply encouraged me. Here I am in a wheelchair, disabled, bedridden, in constant pain, and I barely leave my house… I barely leave my dark quiet room (because of my sickness). Well this friend looked at me with teared-up eyes and said ” You have NO idea how many people God is using you to touch.” I started crying when he said this. Often our trials ARE our platform to be a light to others.

Several months after my car accident when I was very sick and in bed, God was putting on my heart others who are suffering with chronic illness. I kept wanting to “Get on with my life so I could reach people.” But sometime between then and now God helped me see that this wasn’t a bump in the road. This was not something I needed to hurry up and get past so I could get on with my journey and help others. This WAS part of my journey. This was what He was using to help others. How can my bedridden existence help encourage others?? There is only one answer and that is “God.”

Only He can take our trials and use them to encourage others. He can take your trial too and use you to be a light to others. He doesn’t need you to get past this trial so you can help others. He just needs you to look to Him and let Him teach you and change you THROUGH your trial. And that will be used as a light to others :).

How many of you at one time in your life “wanted to make a difference” and “wanted to make the world a better place”??? How many of you wanted to make your imprint on the world and didn’t want your life to go wasted?? Now you’re stuck in the normal ins and outs of everyday life. You’re in a tough situation. Different trials have arisen whether it be financial problems, sickness, strained relationships, a bad marriage, a heartbreaking breakup, foreclosure, death of a loved one and so many other trials out there that I didn’t even mention.

Life didn’t turn out as rosy as you thought it would when you were a kid. Life is difficult, and constantly has stress and different heartbreaks you never expected to face. Some of you didn’t have an easy childhood and because of that you weren’t even able to dream of making a good life for yourself one day. You faced the bitter hardship life can bring at a young age and you’ve always expected that life would bring one bad thing after the next. Well whether you were the “idealistic dreamer”, or the “heartbroken kid”, there is something we all have in common, YOU CAN make a difference in whatever situation you are in right now. God can bring beauty from your hardship that you’re currently facing.

I always had a heart to help people, even as a young child. My parents moved our family of 5 kids to India when I was 6 years old to do missionary work over there. They had planned on staying there the rest of their lives but due to persecution from the Hindus towards Christians, my parents had to pack us up and flee in the middle of the night back to America (another story for another time). I’m sure watching my parents give up everything to reach the poor and needy in India is part of what gave me this heart to help people at a young age. I was taught “God first, Family second, and ministry (reaching out to those that need help) third.

I was in middle school when we fled India and came back to the U.S. with nothing. It was a heartbreaking time for our family, but God healed us and we took it a day at a time. Eventually I adjusted to my new life in America. I continued to see my parents try and reach out to others, and always looking to do missionary work again. But God didn’t take us back on the mission field. He had planted us in America for the time being.

I wanted to be a missionary in China when I “grew up”. I wanted to start orphanages around the world. I also had a heart to reach my own people. I wanted to help the struggling teenagers here in the U.S. Once I went to college I had a plan to get my doctorate in Psychology to become a Counselor. I wanted to start teen centers to help teens who were struggling. I dreamed of starting these centers here in the U.S. and eventually around the world. I still had a heart for orphans and wanted to work with orphanages around the world too. I was a dreamer, a BIG dreamer with a big heart. But all my dreams came crashing down my Senior year of college when I was in a car accident that resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury.

I was half blind, needed help to walk (because my equilibrium was damaged from the brain injury) and I was in constant, severe pain throughout my body. I had difficulty finding words, I was always nauseous. My sensitivity to light made it feel painful to my brain. So I stayed in a dark room. Instead of bouncing back from this concussion (as I expected) I continued to get worse and a multitude of other symptoms arose as the months passed. I later found out that I had Chronic Lyme Disease (a debilitating and sometimes deathly disease). And then arose another condition called P.O.T.S. (Postural Orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) which makes me pass out if I stand for more than a few minutes. All these things together have kept me bedridden for over 4 years now. My dreams crashed down when someone crashed into my car…. and my life has been forever changed!!

I’m a major extrovert, meeting new people is exciting and energizing to me. I love people,.. I even loved “customer service” even though everyone I talked to hated it, So it has been a BIG change for me when my ailments caused me to be in a dark quiet room. For the most part I was secluded from people.  My family and friends would come to visit me here and there and they still do. I live with my parents and my brother (but my dad travels for work and my brother is often, gone so it is usually me and my mom at home alone together).

It is very difficult to leave my house due to my vision, light sensitivity, pain, noise sensitivity etc. Whenever I do leave the house (which is mainly for doctors appointments) my symptoms always go through the roof when I get home. I pay for hours or days. But something crazy and unexpected came out of these past 4 years. Something that only God could do through my sick, secluded life. I couldn’t look at a computer screen, it was extremely hard to try and text with my vision. So my mom took over my communication for me on my phone and computer. She would post for me and read me my comments and messages.

Through this time I did what I knew to do, I clung to the Lord and His strength and grace for each day. Since I was alone in the dark and quiet most of the time, I had a lot of time to talk to God. He had a lot of time to show me things in my heart that I didn’t even know were there. Bitterness, unforgiveness, hurt, etc. Because I was flat on my back alone spending time talking to God He was able to show me things and change my heart.  He was able to humble me and cleanse my heart. He was growing me in so many areas… areas that without this tragedy would have taken me years and years to learn.

I remember people would question “why aren’t you angry at God??”. They were perplexed and would say things like “you were such a nice person and you loved God and lived for Him so why would He let this happen to you??” I was perplexed at their question, To me I had lost everything except for my walk with God.  Everything good in my life was taken away, all my dreams were shattered and my body was in agony, but the only good thing that had happened to me through all of it was God being by my side and giving me strength through it. God was with me and I never doubted that He wasn’t. I knew he was a loving, faithful God. I loved Him. He was the MOST important part of my life before the accident. I had lost my job, my school, my ability to leave the house, my vision, and I was in horrible pain. But to me the thing I most prized I hadn’t lost, and that was my relationship with God.

Why would I be angry at Him when he was standing with me through this whole ordeal?? Why would I be angry at Him when I knew that no matter what was taken from me in life, the one thing that can never be taken from me is Jesus. Being angry at Him was a waste of time and he didn’t deserve it. I don’t look down on or judge those that are angry with God. And if you currently are angry at God I’m not trying to correct you or make you feel bad about that. God understands when we are angry. And if you are angry with Him tell Him, talk to Him about it. David talked to God in the Psalms about how angry he was or how he felt abandoned. God can take it.

I’m just saying that for me, I had decided that no matter what, I wasn’t going to be angry at God because I knew His character, I knew His love, and I knew He hurt watching me go through this. I knew He wouldn’t leave me no matter what. I knew He would help me through my trial. I knew bad things happened on this earth. Fleeing India, my home, at such a young age opened my eyes to see that bad thing happen in this world. It also opened my eyes to see that God would help you through them.

Here I am secluded from people more than ever in my life, in my own trial, not reaching out to others, barely getting through the day health wise. But during this time God surprised me!! All of a sudden I started having people, from close friends, to acquaintances write me and say “ God is using you to inspire and encourage me. “ So many people started reaching out to me and saying God had used my story in their life, or how my constant faith touched them. I was amazed because I wasn’t doing ANYTHING.

I wasn’t reaching out to people. I was barely even seeing people. How could this be ministering to others???!!! I wasn’t doing anything but holding onto my faith, and letting God use this trial to grow me. To me this shows that it WASN’T me, it was GOD that was reaching people. He was the one touching their hearts. He wasn’t having me reach out to others. But somehow He was getting my story out there and somehow HE was using it to encourage others. He amazes me still to this day, because He can use ANYTHING in your life to touch others. Even when you’re not trying.. and so the main message I want to encourage you with in this article is this,

  1. God can use YOUR life RIGHT now. No matter how boring it seems, or how difficult it is, God can use you to make a difference in the world around you. Maybe it won’t be in the way you dreamed of, but God’s way is always better than our way.
  2. The MAIN thing God can use in your life right now to reach others may be the opposite of what you expect. It’s not necessarily for you to reach out to others, it’s for you to reach up to God.

Spend time with God.  Ask God to humble you and convict you of whatever He sees in your life that He wants to change. It IS humbling as He shows you the ugly things you are not aware are in your heart.  Ask Him to teach you lessons and purify your heart in the situation you are currently in. If you do these things God will use you as a light to others without you even trying. Because it’s not you, it’s God who is using you.

I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t ever reach out to others. That is not my message in this article. Of course you should reach out to others as God puts it on your heart and as HE leads you. What I’m saying is that what is more important than reaching out to others, what should be your main concern is, YOUR walk with God.

The people you’re most often used to reach are the people you live with and work with. The people who see you most every day. I see less people on a daily basis than most of you. I live with my parents and younger brother. Though I couldn’t reach out to others I felt like God put on my heart the desire to do whatever I could to be kind, encouraging, and uplifting to my family that I lived with. No matter how bad the pain gets or how frustrated I am with my illness, I try not to take it out on them.  If the only difference you make is in the people around you, that is a big difference. That IS making a difference in the world around you :).

When we walk through the fires of life God can use them to burn out the dirt within us and purify our hearts. It’s not a onetime thing. Everyday I’m seeking God about the sin, hurt, and frustrations in my own heart. I’m asking Him to heal me, to grow me, and to humble me. It’s a journey of God changing us. But if we allow God to burn out the ugliness in our hearts THROUGH our trials, He can use our trials to be our platforms.

I realize that if I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t have the platform I have to speak into hurting people’s lives. I don’t believe God caused my sickness. But I do believe He IS the one who can use it to be my platform… A platform I would not have without the struggle and agony I’ve suffered with these past 4 years. When I see how God is using it, I thank Him for giving me this platform. It’s a gift He is trusting me with and I feel honored about that. Your trial may be different than mine but God too can give you a platform to be a light that you wouldn’t have without your trial.

I have a friend who has been in a difficult marriage for years. But they’re pressing in with the Lord and seeking Jesus to change them and grow them. This friend is just living their life and has had several hardships rise up. They probably have no idea that me seeing them change and grow and become kinder and more humble, is a light to me and I’m sure to many around them. Their trial has become their platform because they have chosen to press into God during the hard times. And God is using them within their trials to be a light.

You don’t know the light that shines in you when you’re seeking God and asking Him to humble and change you. You have no idea how you can be a positive influence in the people you see on a daily basis, just by showing them love and respect.

Bloom where you’re planted, and God can use it in ways you can’t imagine :). God will use your trial as your platform, if you let Him.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to Your Trial, Your Platform

  1. I just love you. I love your heart. I love your passion. I love that despite it all, you reach out to me often, that you write to inspire others. You are such a beautiful soul. ❤

  2. Kirk says:

    Rachel, you say you’re amazed that people find inspiration in you because you don’t think you’re doing anything. But that’s just it. You are doing more than I and others could, just by being you and having the attitude through these trials you have. I couldn’t do it. You’re amazing! Julie and I just love you to pieces! And don’t be so sure you won’t get those dreams for your life in the end. God is a doer of amazing miracles. We’ll shoot for coming by to see you again in March after we get back from India!

  3. Reblogged this on S. W. Krull Imaging and commented:
    An inspiring article by my friend Rachel!

  4. Amazing article Rachel! I know your words will inspire many people going through trials!

  5. psalmsheb says:

    Once again, I am amazed, humbled, and BLOWN AWAY by your wisdom and attitude. No doubt about it: you are one of my all-time Heroes. Everything you wrote here is a precious, costly jewel…thank you for sharing them with us.

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