Tag Archive | Identity in Christ

Refined – Not Defined – By Trials

Last Thursday, I shared an important lesson God reminded me of as I was reading the book I Still Believe, an autobiography written by Contemporary Christian singer and song writer Jeremy Camp. Before I put this book aside, I wanted to share another truth that I learned while reading this book. It has to do with the purpose of trials in our lives.

“The Word of God never promises that we won’t go through trials. Actually, it’s pretty much a sure thing that we will go through them. In fact, James exhorts us to ‘consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’ We aren’t guaranteed a perfect life. We’re going to struggle and endure hardships.”

But that’s not the end of the message. Jeremy continues:

“And yet God does promise that in our trials, He will stand right next to us and be there every moment. He will be faithful to lead us and guide us, to breathe life into us and heal our hearts.”

But honestly, the statement that touched the deepest place in my heart from this book was the following one. Frankly, it opened my eyes to a truth I hadn’t seen before, the difference between being refined by our trials and being defined by the difficult circumstances God allows to touch our lives. One is a part of the plan of God in allowing suffering in our lives on this earth, the other was never meant to be.

“What I have walked through has refined me. It hasn’t defined me – this is not who I am, ‘the guy whose wife passed away and who has a powerful testimony because if that’- but it has refined me and deepened my dependence on the Rock of my salvation.”

As many of you know, we lost our thirty-four year old special needs son David last November. And after his death, one of my biggest struggles was feeling like I’d lost a major part of who I was. Suddenly, I was no longer the mother of a child with special needs. For thirty-four years, my life (and my husband’s as well) had centered around meeting David’s extensive medical needs. When that was no longer my responsibility, I felt lost.

Until I read the above quote, I really didn’t understand I had been allowing the suffering in my life to define me, to determine how I saw myself. Trials that don’t just come for a short time and then go away can do that if we aren’t careful. But I was not primarily the mother of a child with special needs. My identity is found in Christ and my relationship with Him.

Yes, trials are a part of life on this earth. Yes, they refine us, changing us from within. But, no, the difficult circumstances we walk through are not meant to define who we are. Unfortunately, when trials drag on and on and on, they have the potential of doing just that. What we are walking through becomes so much a part of who we are that it can become how we see outselves, our identity.

Ladies who are reading this on our GLG page, remember your chronic illnesses do not define who you are. You are a child of God, an heir of God and joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:16-17), who happens to have one or more chronic illness. If you are reading this on my personal blog, perhaps your prolonged trial is of a different kind, but the same lesson applies. Life on this earth and trials go together but the suffering we go through does not determine who we are.

On this Teach Me Tuesday, let’s remember our trials do refine us, but they don’t define us. We are God’s beloved children who will one day be whole, when we see Him face-to-face. Allow your trials to remind you of this truth, and look forward to that day when we will leave behind these broken bodies and live in the future God has promised us, when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation‬ ‭21:4‬ ‭ESV‬)‬

Who We Are In Christ #1: I Am a Child of God

Today I am starting a new series that examines who we are in Christ. These will be short posts, partly because that’s all I can handle as I continue on my recovery process from a major surgery, and partly because they will be most useful if we take the time to meditate on the truths included. Today I’m examining: I am a child of God.

“So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”  (‭Galatians‬ ‭4:3-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

There is one sure proof that you are a child of God – the Spirit of the Son is in your heart!  When we surrender our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, to guide us into all truth and to enable us to live lives pleasing to God. Where before, we were slavess to such sins as fear, selfishness, and any other fruit of living in the fallen flesh, now the Holy Spirit is at work within us to develop the fruit of the Spirit: “… love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

God is Creator – we were each formed by Him in our mother’s womb – but this alone does not make us children of God. Being a child of God has nothing to do with our age or nationality. Only one thing matters: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (‭Romans‬ ‭8:9‬ ‭NKJV) Do you know that the Spirit of God lives within you? If so, you can be confident that you are a CHILD OF GOD!‬‬


Who We Are In Christ, #2: We Are Redeemed

When I was growing up, I remember my mother collecting S&H Green Stamps, which she received at grocery stores.  These were redeemable for household  items, personal items, and even toys.

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Mother and I would sit at the dining room table, licking the stamps and applying them to the pages of the S&H Stamps redemption books. Occasionally, I would go with her the next day to the S&H Stamps Redemption Store, and she would give me one or two books of my own to “buy” something for helping her.

This was my first exposure to the idea of something (or someone) being redeemed, which simply meant that the stamps she had collected were exchanged for money or goods. But this falls far short of the biblical meaning of being redeemed.

So what do I mean when I say “we are redeemed?” According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary, redemption is “deliverance from captivity  by means of a ransom price paid.” Before we became Christians, we were in bondage to sin and Satan. Jesus paid the “ransom price” by shedding His blood on the cross He paid what we owed and could not pay. Baker goes on to say, “The central theme of redemption is that God has taken the initiative to act compassionately on behalf of those who are powerless to help themselves.”


What was the main effect of our redemption? It was a change from one kingdom to another, from darkness to light. Colossians 1:13-14 explains what happens.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

‭‭What should be our response to Jesus’ gift of redemption? 1 Peter 1: 17-19  gives us the answer.

“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

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