“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Revelation 12:11

Many people believe that once they become Christians their problems will magically disappear. They will be instantly changed and be able to conquer anything. They think failures and falls belong to the old man, and this new life is going to be so easy. However, this mindset often leads to discouragement. We all cry out for greater faith, but when God provides the test through which He will increase our faith, we complain. Setbacks or temporary failures become insurmountable obstacles. We think that the tests are punishments or that God has turned His back on us. The accuser also known as Satan tells us lies and has us doubting our salvation and making us feel like frauds and failures.

The opposite is actually true. Without tests, we have no testimony. Our faith increases as we witness God's power. When we look back and realize that God brought us safely through every impossible circumstance we faced, we have faith that God can give us victory again. Then we can witness that God will do the same for others as well.

God uses every struggle, even the ones we created through disobedience. We all must face the consequences for our actions, yet God uses them for our benefit as well. Paul explains in Romans 8:28-29, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." We will face difficult situations because they both conform us to Christ's image and create a testimony which brings others to faith.

Personally, I thought that my tests would break me. I violated the law, hurt my family, lost my job, house, and freedom. When I was sentenced to prison, I believed my life was over. However, God took my life which I threw away and called me for His purpose. I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and gained hope and purpose. I joined the choir and became a worship leader. It seemed like everything was going well and I had "arrived," but God knew that I had many issues still to resolve. My testimony was not finished.

My mom and dad supported me and gave me a reason for living when I thought of suicide. They prayed for me, forgave me for bringing shame to them, and they visited me while I was in prison. Thus, a great test came when I heard of their death. They died in a boating accident in Costa Rica. For those that have not lost their parents, this is one of the worst experiences you can imagine. One's parents provide a compass. They are home. No matter what happens in life or what we do, mom and dad are there! They serve as an anchor for life's shipwrecks and a lighthouse when we get lost. When I lost this foundation, I could only set my eyes on the true light and my one foundation, Jesus the Christ.

Through my incarceration and my parent’s death, God has increased my faith tremendously and given me a testimony. For months after the accident, I was able to use my loss as a witness. Through their deaths, countless people came to faith in Jesus and many familial relationships were restored. My tests served as a vessel, as man after man informed me in the coming days that they reconciled with their parents after years of separation. As people witnessed my faith and strength in God, they were changed.

We all will face many trials in life. Where many people reject the spoken Gospel, they are drawn to the power of our testimonies. Jesus has saved and called us for a purpose. When powerful storms do not destroy us but make us stronger, we can testify that, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When we are knocked down and are on our knees, look up, God's hand is reaching down to help us. Arise and testify.