I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9, NIV)
I thought that when I published my first book Valiant Warrior I would feel elated and relieved to finally have it finished. Instead, I have been struggling with anxiety and insecurity since the book’s release. Letting all of my past, my feelings, and the way my head and body are wired hanging out there makes me feel vulnerable and exposed, open to rejection, and subject to criticism.
I have re-read the book at least once to ensure that it was written coherently, that the points I was trying to make came through clearly, and that I didn’t write anything that would cause pain to those I love. In my review, I discovered numerous errors in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. And even though the photograph of myself that I sent to the publisher looked fine to me, my picture in the book makes me look live I’ve got a bad sunburn. But those things don’t bother me too much. What really concerns me and leaves me feeling naked are the raw emotions I described and sharing my deepest, darkest thoughts with those close to me as well as with complete strangers. “What was I thinking?” I have wondered to myself on more than one occasion. Should I have just kept my experience to myself?
As I’ve been praying to God about my insecurity and trying to trust that it was truly His will for me to write the book and share my battle with depression and chronic illness, I felt comforted as I listened to a message by Pastor Jon Courson on Revelation 1:9. Revelation was written by the apostle John after he was exiled to the island of Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. Pastor Courson discussed how John tried to comfort and encourage the Christian Church amidst the severe persecution its members were experiencing for their faith. John wanted to assure his fellow Christians that as a “brother and companion in the suffering” (John 1:9a), he understood their woes.
John could identify with the trials and tribulations of his fellow Christians because he, too, had suffered persecution. Similarly, who better to comfort us in our struggles than someone who has been where we have been? Who better to comfort someone battling cancer than a cancer survivor? Who better to encourage someone who has lost a child than another person who has experienced the same loss?
Throughout the course of writing my book, I earnestly prayed for the Holy Spirit’s leading and that what I wrote would help other people who struggle with depression and chronic illness. All I have to offer is what God has given me, and that is my experience. How could I not share it if it might be helpful to someone? And it’s not about me anyway. It’s about the Lord and giving Him the glory for everything He has done in my life, which includes giving me strength during the difficult times in my life.
Warrior, have you experienced suffering in your life? And if so, is there anyone who can benefit, receive hope, and be encouraged by your story? As the apostle Paul explains, we can comfort others in their trials because we receive comfort from God, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
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. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; emphasis mine).
God’s grace is evident throughout my story. My story, therefore, is really His story – a story of redemption!
Enjoy “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave