Have you ever stepped back and thought about all the lessons God has taught you over the last year?
I was recently challenged to do this and I decided to accept the challenge because I think it is good to sit back and reflect on our journey with God.
Some of these lessons are new to me. Some I am learning more about. And some I have been reminded of. (And will probably need to be reminded of again in the future.)
As you read through these lessons, I hope they will inspire you to come up with your own list of 12 interesting things God has taught you in the past year.
(And if you do come up with a list, be sure to share in the comments below so we can learn from each other and grow!)
- Encouraging Lessons I’ve Learned from God About Myself
- Encouraging Lessons I Have Learned from God About Faith
- Encouraging Lessons on What I have Learned About God
Encouraging Lessons I’ve Learned from God About Myself
The lessons we learn from God not only change our hearts but can also change our lives. And while it’s not always fun to take a good look in the mirror, what we can learn from God about ourselves causes us to change and grow.
Lesson #1: God will ask me to do more than I can. So, I learn to lean on Him.
I have heard the saying God never gives us more than we can handle. But that simply isn’t true. In my life, I have found that He often DOES give me more than I can handle so I have no choice but to lean on His strength to get through.
In fact, over this past year God has asked me to do some things that were really hard.
They stretched me. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. And to be honest, they completely terrified me at the time.
But I did what God asked me to. And you know what?
I did not die.
In fact, I ended up being grateful for the opportunities in the end. I didn’t do it all perfectly. But I found that God even used my mistakes and imperfections to bring Him glory.
So, is God asking you to do something scary?
Remember God is on your side. And He will be with you every step of the way.
This hard thing He is asking of you will force you to rely on His strength in your weakness. And being wrapped up in the arms of His strength is an amazing place to be.
Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and do it scared.
After all, the only thing worse than facing your fears is living with regret!
You can actually trick your brain into doing hard things by simply counting down from 5. This simple act gets you to stop thinking and start acting. The countdown pushes you out of autopilot, turns on your prefrontal cortex, and gets your body ready to go.
Alli Worthington shared in her book Standing Strong that she adds Philippians 4:13 to this practice.
(And I may have said this to myself before doing a minute-long plank a few times!)
So, when you are facing something hard simply declare, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . GO!”
And then just do it!
Lesson #2: I shouldn’t care so much about what other people think.
I know. I know.
This lesson is a familiar one. And yet it is one I keep having to remind myself of. Over and over again.
I don’t know about you but I am a chronic people-pleaser. I am an enneagram 9 which means I just want to keep the peace and please everybody.
But I’m not chocolate.
And you’re not a chocolate.
So, the chances of us being able to make everybody happy are pretty slim!
A better purpose for us is to live for what God thinks. After all, as long as I am trying to love Him and others, God will be pleased even if people aren’t.
Just look at Jesus.
Everything He did was out of love for His Father and for us, and in the end that got Him crucified. And yet, His crucifixion was also the very PROOF of His amazing love for us.
In this life, not everyone will like us. Some people will even hate us. Some may even attack and ridicule us.
But that doesn’t matter.
As long as we are loving God and loving people then in God’s eyes, we are a success.
And the more I care about what my God thinks of me, the less concerned I am with what people think of me.
Lesson #3: Failure is a part of success.
Like I said previously I am an enneagram 9. But I also have a very strong 1 wing. This basically means if I can’t do it perfectly, I am just not going to do it.
Which doesn’t fair well for finding success in life.
But what God is teaching me is that He can use failure for good.
Think about it.
The sailors on the boat were saved by Jonah’s failure. Peter’s failure of denying Jesus led him to become so bold in his faith that he was a huge part of the beginnings of the early church. The Samaritan woman at the well had 5 failed marriages.
And God used her to preach to an entire village.
God can use our mistakes and failures to remind people that they are never too far gone for the love of Jesus. And that God can use anyone for the good of His Kingdom.
So now, instead of asking God to help everything I do go smoothly, I ask Him to use it all for His glory.
Because if a mistake I make or a failure I experience can help someone else find Jesus, then failing is totally worth it.
Lesson #4: Being authentic is more important than being perfect.
This is another reason I am learning to be okay with failure. Because people don’t want to see perfect Christians. They want to see REAL Christians living REAL lives they can relate to.
In a small group setting once, I heard an older woman share of her struggle with losing her temper and getting snippy with her son.
And you know what?
I didn’t look down on her. In fact, her confession was refreshingly reassuring.
Because there have been countless times, I have beaten myself up for yelling at my kids. And felt overwhelmed by shame, thinking I really should know better by now.
But hearing her share how she still struggles even after all these years shows me that even though I still wrestle with sin there is always room for grace. There is always forgiveness and a chance to try again because of Jesus.
No one can be perfect anyways. So, let’s stop striving for perfection and embrace being authentic.
And maybe just by sharing our struggles we will in turn give someone the courage to share their own.
Encouraging Lessons I Have Learned from God About Faith
These next few encouraging lessons I am sharing are what God has been teaching me about my faith. And what it means to trust Him when life gets hard.
Lesson #5: I can actively wait on God in faith.
I have always struggled with waiting. And I don’t think I am alone in this.
Then I learned about the Hebrew word for wait which is “qavah”. It can be translated as “waiting in hopeful anticipation”.
While in our society we view waiting as something passive like waiting in the check-out line, this Hebrew word for wait means to wait actively.
It is like the waiting of someone who is moving into a new home. They don’t just sit around and do nothing. They call insurance companies and mortgage lenders. They pack boxes, pick out paint colors, and plan how they will organize their new home.
They are actively waiting in hopeful anticipation of what is to come.
In the same way, we can actively wait on God to answer our prayers.
For example, I have prayed for many years for my body to be healed of a chronic illness. But I don’t have to just sit around and wait for God to divinely heal me.
I can be active as I wait.
I can go to doctor appointments. I can research new therapies. I can take my meds, exercise, get good sleep, etc. And after I do what I can, I can wait in hopeful anticipation of what God is going to do in my life.
I can have faith that God knows what is best for me.
Even if that means I have to wait until eternity for my complete healing.
Lesson #6: Faith means living for the Holy Spirit over hustle.
If someone were to ask me, “What did you learn about following Jesus this year?” I would say that following Jesus is more important than hustling because I often look to my crossed-off to-do list showing all my accomplishments in an attempt to prove my worth.
But my true worth is found in Jesus.
One of the things I like to joke about with my chronic illness is that I was doing so much stuff that God had to literally force me to slow down by allowing this disease to prevent me from overworking.
And yet, I still find myself doing too much sometimes. (You would think I would have learned by now!)
Over this past year though, I am learning that what matters more than hustling is spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Because without Him, my hustle will fall short every time.
But with Him, I can do anything.
Yes, if we want to succeed in life we will need to hustle sometimes. But let’s make sure our priorities are in order and we are attentive to what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do.
Do you wonder how you can bring yourself closer to God?
Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes every morning and spend this time in quiet meditation and prayer. Slowly increase this time to 12 minutes over the course of a month.
Why 12 minutes?
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Cognitive Neuroscientist, stated that scientists have found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over the course of 8 weeks changed the human brain so much that it could be measured on a brain scan!
Lesson #7: Sometimes acting in faith means getting out of the way.
I am a fixer. I love to figure things out and come up with solutions. But I am learning that sometimes there is really nothing you can do.
Not everyone wants to accept our help. Not everyone is going to follow our advice. Not everyone even wants to fix their situation. So, sometimes we have to learn to walk away.
This is a lesson we can learn from Jesus because . . . Jesus didn’t heal everyone.
Not everyone wanted his help. And so, He left them alone.
We can do what we can. Which is love them and pray for them. But then we may just need to get out of God’s way.
While having faith that God is working in ways we cannot see.
Lesson #8: The most powerful way to help someone is to pray for them.
Sometimes we throw our hands up and say, “I guess all I can do is pray.” And yet, if we really stop to think about it prayer is the most powerful thing we can do.
For prayer unleashes all the power of heaven.
I watched a video on social media once. I don’t quite remember the title but it was something like “What the Devil Sees When Christians Pray”.
At first, it showed someone on their knees praying. And then it showed a whole bunch of clips from movies with men and women warriors screaming their ferocious war cries. And then attacking and defeating their enemies.
It was an awesome visual of what happens in the spiritual realm when we pray.
We may look around us and not see anything happening. But our prayers are doing massive damage against the dark forces spiritually.
All of hell shudders when we begin to pray and cry out in Jesus’s name.
Encouraging Lessons on What I have Learned About God
These last lessons are all about what God has been teaching me about Himself. And how much He loves us!
Lesson #9: I learned that God will take our pain and use it for something great.
This was a hard lesson to learn. It took a lot of tears and a lot of years. But looking back on my life I can see how even in the hard moments there were good things from God hidden within them.
He took the painful experiences of bullying from my high school years to grow compassion and empathy in my heart. And a love for encouraging others.
He took a heart-wrenching miscarriage to show me His amazing comfort in the middle of devastating loss. And to give me a heart for those who are suffering.
He has taken my life with a chronic illness and used it to show others that there is always hope for the broken. That God is our strength when we are weak. And to keep our eyes focused on eternity.
God can take our pain and turn it into something great. So, we can bloom for our Creator. No matter where He plants us.
Lesson #10: Our God does not divide . . . He multiplies!
Since I struggle with doing too much, I also struggle with sitting still.
I have a really hard time trying to focus when I read my bible and pray. My to-do list calls to me. My mind chases after every sort of distraction. And my heart likes to daydream.
And yet sitting still is exactly what will multiply my effectiveness when I do get up and go into my day.
I heard it described once that if God can multiply 5 loaves and two fish to feed over 5,000 people, then He can take the time we give Him in the morning and multiply our effectiveness to make up for it.
God promises that if we seek Him first.
Everything else will fall into place.
Even our time.
Lesson #11: God encourages self-care.
Jesus was God. He was the only perfect, sinless human to ever walk on this planet. And yet He still made time for self-care.
- He took breaks.
- He took naps.
- He made time to eat.
- He woke up early to pray and feed His soul.
If the Creator of the universe took the time to care for himself, why do we think we won’t need to? When we care for ourselves, we ensure that we have enough to give to others around us.
Because we can’t pour from an empty cup!
Once a week choose to set all work aside and nourish your soul by celebrating the Sabbath.
Spend extra time in God’s word. Grab a notebook, sit outside, and journal and pray while enjoying God’s creation. Turn on some praise music and sing to your King.
Take a hot bath. Then eat some good food and take a nap! Play with your kids. Make love to your husband.
Laugh until you cry. (Or pee your pants!) Dance to your favorite song. And rest in the fact that while you are enjoying yourself . . . Your Heavenly Father is watching over you and smiling!
Lesson #12: God wants us to think more about eternity.
As I get older, I find myself thinking more and more about eternity. I am realizing how much time and money I spend on this one life that is quickly fading away. And how little I spend on things of eternal significance.
And it bothers me.
These moments inspire me to stop worrying about the nit-picky things that irritate me. And focus on the things that are most important.
Like spending less time cleaning the house, and more time loving on the people living there.
Like thinking carefully about the way I spend my time and money. And looking for opportunities to invest in the things that really matter. Like loving others and telling them about Jesus.
“I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”-Bob Goff
Yeah! You did it!
You made it through all twelve lessons! I hope you found some inspiration in these encouraging lessons I’ve learned from God. And if you have a moment, please share your thoughts in the comments below!
- What did you learn about following God from reading these lessons?
- Were there any lessons you learned something new from?
- Were there any lessons that God has been teaching you lately, too?
If you found this encouraging, then please share!
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