“I used to fear what I would lose if I repented and left my old ways behind. But what I have now in Christ does not even compare to my old life. I used to enjoy sin, but now I hate it, and that is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart. God wanted so much more for my life than what I was choosing. I know now that Christ has already won the battle, and He has the power to bring us out of sin and into a life of purpose with Him.” – Natalie Gossett
This week, people throughout the country gave thanks to God for family, friends, and the good things in their lives. But over the last few years, Destinee Valadez, Gwen Wilhite, and Natalie Gossett have discovered gratitude and joy despite pain and disappointment. Today, they share stories of how struggles and challenging seasons in their lives have been opportunities to experience more of God’s goodness, peace, and faithfulness.
“Over the past year and a half, I have experienced trials at work that I never expected to encounter. Romans 13 reminds me that we are all under someone’s authority. And as I interact with those in authority over me, I am to ‘do what is good.’ I have asked the Lord daily for the strength and humility to do just that. But it’s still difficult, especially when I disagree with a decision.
“At times, my flesh wanted to point out the flaws of people around me. In response, the Lord graciously reminded me of Matthew 7. I was acting like the man with the log in his eye who was trying to pick out the speck in the other’s eye. I needed to humbly remove the log out of my own eye so I could see clearly.
“So, as I continuously remind the students I serve, I need to work on drawing a circle around myself and fixing what’s in that circle. The Lord has refocused my vision and reminded me that He has me in a school, with a group of students so that He may accomplish a specific purpose. No matter how challenging things can be at work, Acts 17:26-28 shows me that I am in my role as a teacher so that I can be a light and point kids to Christ. God has me there to demonstrate that life is found in Christ alone, even as what students see in the world around them contradicts that truth.
“I’m still a work in progress, and it’s sometimes difficult to submit, to be humble, and to think on what is ‘pure, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise.’ (Philippians 4:8) But I rely on the Lord to help me be content and depend on both His strength and the prayers of the community He has placed around me. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to guide me, even in the midst of trials.”
“In the last few months, my family of five has experienced more illness than we normally would. God has used that disruption to our normal routine to discipline and correct me. (Hebrews 12:5,6) Through these illnesses the Lord exposed my addiction to planning and scheduling. I decided to throw away my schedule so I could turn my focus from planning to building relationships. I confessed my struggle with control to my husband and community group and found grace, understanding, and support. After confessing, I learned that my focus on planning and scheduling were really about my struggle for control. I am delighted with the people I have been able to enjoy within just one week of repenting. I feel more satisfied than I have in a long time.”
“For years, my loyalty was divided between the Lord, my own desires, and the pain of an eating disorder. None of my friends at the time were abiding with Christ, so when we were together it killed me knowing that I was choosing to live in a way that was contrary to truth. I eventually started finding pleasure and joy in my sin, if only for a moment. Now I look back and see such emptiness in that way of life.
“Now that I have Christ-like examples of what real friendship is, I see how impossible it is to have a relationship with Christ without biblical community. I am so thankful that God put godly women into my life and new desires in my heart. That has allowed me to see myself more like He sees me.
“I used to fear what I would lose if I left my old ways behind. But what I have now in Christ does not even compare to my old life. Now I hate sin, and that is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart. God wanted so much more for my life than what I was choosing. I know now that Christ has already won the battle, and He has the power to bring us out of sin and into a life of purpose with Him.”