Count it All Joy: The Gift of Being Stripped of All You Have
If God doesn’t give you the thing you want most - the job, relationship, or opportunity you’ve been praying for - would He still be enough for you? Would you still have a reason to praise and worship Him?
I love this quote by C.S. Lewis:
“One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give, and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.”
— C.S Lewis
It’s a blessing to be successful, influential, and financially stable, but it’s a BIGGER blessing to know if you have God and nothing else, you still have all you need. When I say “know” I don’t mean in the intellectual sense because you’ve read scriptures or been informed through other people’s testimonies. I mean to know through experience and relationship. This kind of knowing only comes in one way - by being stripped of everything else.
There have been a couple of seasons in my life where I was stripped of (pretty much) everything. I remember one in particular that lasted almost six months. I left my job, endured a break-up” and had to move back home with my mom. I lost everything that gave me value and purpose. I didn’t have a boyfriend or a job, and my bank account was quickly approaching zero. I was losing it. I became clinically depressed and suffered with anxiety attacks and insomnia. Spiritually I was depleted. I’d hit rock bottom. I had nothing but God, and soon I would realize that was enough.
That season wasn’t glamorous. It was painful and difficult, but it was what I needed. I”d put my hope and worth in everything except God. Sometimes consciously, and sometimes not. Now here I was without any of those things to comfort me. So I did the only thing I knew to do, pray and seek God. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was praying and reading His word. I read and re-read it until I actually believed it. In that moment I realized my need God. Hard times either pull you away from God or push you into a deeper intimacy with Him.
“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” — C.S. Lewis
It’s difficult to see the blessings in our hardship because it’s painful and uncomfortable. Our flesh craves control, comfort, and things that will satisfy it. Our spirit, however, craves God. The flesh and the spirit are constantly at war and that’s the root of our internal struggle; to desire in God’s will above our own. We all want the promise land without the wilderness, but that’s not how it works.
If you no longer have that relationship or job title, will you be confident in your identity? The wilderness, the trials and testing of our faith, allow us to see where our hope really lies. It could be God, or things like money, career advancement, social media following, attention from the opposite sex, or control. When we’re stripped of those things (that we’ve made idols) we’re given the gift of learning that God is truly all we need. He alone holds our identity, defines our value, and gives us security and purpose.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. — James 1:2-4
I know it’s painful, but the pain isn’t meant to break you, it’s meant to break your will and those strongholds that have deceived you for so long. God loves you enough to strip you of all the things that can’t fulfill you and teach you who your true source is.
What a privilege it is to own things, and have recognition and success, without being defined by it. You’’ll be able to endure loss and failure without losing yourself. You’ll know your worth, purpose, and future are still fully in tact because it’s not defined by something you can lose.
As I came out of that stripping season I learned that my relationship status didn’t determine my worth, God did. I understood that my job wasn’t the source of my income, it was a resource God used to provide for me. I stopped making those things my god, and put God in his rightful place as first in my life.
If you’re being stripped of your comforts, relationships, and resources, understand that it’s not because God is mad at you. It’s because he loves you. Hebrews 12 tells us, “The Lord disciplines those he loves”. God desires for you to know Him, and to know that regardless of what you gain or lose you have all you need if you remain in Him.