Of all the examples of testimonies presented in the Bible, I am most inspired by Jesus’ talk with the Samaritan woman at the well. The one in John 4 to whom Jesus revealed that He is the source of “living water.” To help her believe, Jesus gave the woman an opportunity to be honest about her shameful circumstances—when she was, His miraculous revelation became her testimony to draw others to Him. In response, the people of Samaria came to listen to Jesus, afterwards proclaiming that it wasn’t through her message that they believed, but it was through their own hearing they realized He was the true Messiah.
John’s account of this discussion is so profound because here we see just how capable Jesus is of using all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances to fulfill God’s will as noted in John 6:39. If we can understand our trials and tribulations are not so much about ourselves, as they are a part of a greater vision that will bring all souls to God, then we will be ready to proclaim through our testimony just how great God is, and we too can be used as was the unnamed, unashamed woman at the well.
Testimony Acknowledges God:
When we are honest about what has happened in our lives, from painful missteps to wonderful triumphs, and we acknowledge that it is by His grace that we can endure and have endured all these things, we are fulfilling our purpose on earth: we are glorifying God’s name and beaconing others to Christ in whom we find our peace and place our hope.
Testimony Acknowledges Growth:
Recounting our story to others helps us evaluate the spiritual, physical and emotional distance between where we have been and where we are now. We can rid ourselves of guilt associated with unhealthy choices we’ve made in the past, when we realize just how far we are from those choices. And if we are tempted to revert, we can recall our testimony and remind ourselves of the long and painful journey it took to gain the growth, and to count the cost of losing it.
In our sharing not only do we acknowledge our own growth, we encourage others to grow as well. If we can admit our own shortcomings, and provide Christian insight on how to heal, others can find comfort in knowing that righteousness doesn’t demand exacting perfection, rather it requires interminable progress.
Testimony Acknowledges Grit:
Often I find we are afraid to share our stories because it means we must admit our failures and mistakes to others, and we feel people will think negatively of us as a result. Testifying requires the courage to face scrutiny from those who cannot understand our life choices and circumstances. But let the woman at the well be a reminder to us all, “…that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We find hope that no matter the experiences we face, whether pleasurable or distressing, they will all ultimately be for the good of His purpose.
As a result of misperceived failure, loneliness and hopelessness, I married a man I barely knew. As consequence, we created a tumultuous environment full of mistrust, unmet expectations and overall despair, and not just for ourselves, but for our young child as well.
The marriage and subsequent divorce were extremely shameful as I knew the union was not of God, and the divorce would certainly displease God. I was at an all-time emotional low — I was an ashamed, divorced, single mother in a dreadful line of work. Even though my soul and body were miserable, my spirit honestly felt relief—relief that the pitiful attempts of me trying to orchestrate my own destiny had come to an end. Finally God could move in and begin to provide what I had been seeking all along—not a husband, not a career, not even a child—but a relationship filled with unconditional love. I committed to learning more about Him and being around people that knew Him, and I allowed God to deal with the mess that I had made of my own life.
I could go on and on about how in my submission to God, He has made straight my paths, but what is critical to note is that the most painful time of my life created a relationship with God that could not have existed if I didn’t suffer through my experience. If I didn’t come to the end of myself, I wouldn’t have needed God to solve my problems. I would still be under the false assumption that I could create the happiness I desired. So with sincere and genuine honesty, I truly thank God for the trials and tribulations, for without them I would not know Him.
Because of my own experience, I find strength in encouraging others to understand that the only value placed on our lives is God-given, that we are wonderfully made because God has great purpose for us. This value has nothing to do with how successful we become, as viewed by the world’s standards, who we marry, how many mistakes we think we’ve made, and it does not come by our own power or might. We have value because God made us. It’s as simple as that. Armed with this knowledge, we can make healthier decisions in relationships because we know our own worth and the worth of others, and we can treat and expect treatment that reflects this fact.
My role is also to remind those of us who are single that we have great capacity to serve God, as Paul details in 1 Corinthians 7. I want to help uplift folks when they are faced with temptations and desires to act in a way that stands outside of God’s will for singles.
My prayer is that we all live as fearlessly as the woman at the well. It’s time for us to tell our stories –in doing so we will exhibit just how great God’s love is for us. Let’s begin today by encouraging each other through our testimonies on our Christian Journey, together.