Today our church, North Shore Baptist in Bay Side, Queens wrapped up its “Fall Ladies Conference.” This year the theme was “Joy in the Journey” and the women of North Shore, as citizens of a better country (Philippians 3:20), received instruction from the Word regarding our journey homeward. I think it’s safe to say that we all walked away with a fresh understanding of what it means to “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4) in this earthly pilgrimage. I was asked to share a brief testimony at Saturday morning’s segment which was entitled, “Potholes, Turbulence & Swells.” I mulled over whether or not to post it here due to the personal nature of what I shared, but ultimately decided to do so in the hopes that it will encourage someone.
ALL THINGS WORKING FOR GOOD
My name is Christina Langella. I was saved in November 1999. At age 27, I was very much a product of the age we live in: godless and cynical. I’ve always felt that Hosea 2:14 was a picture of my own salvation experience. “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” The consequences of my own sin had driven me to such despair and bitterness that when the hour of my salvation came, His grace was all the more precious to me. My turnaround was very radical. There was not one area of my life for which there was not a complete overhaul. I broke off ungodly relationships, stopped drinking, smoking, and cursing. I threw out all my New Age books, changed the way I dressed, stopped flirting, deceiving, and criticizing. These outward changes were only expressions of what was going on in the inside. God gave me a new heart and for the first time I knew what it was to be forgiven. Fear was cast out, and I was free to love God, and people.
I started going to church and in a little over a year I met and married Steven. He, too, was zealous for the Lord and together all we wanted was to live for God. Less than 6 months after we got married, we sold our co-op, moved out of NY, and threw ourselves — our resources, our energies into ministry. But things didn’t go the way we thought they would. In less than 3 years we lost our property, our reputation, and our marriage was hanging by a thread. We went from prosperity and good standing to poverty and humiliation almost overnight. It was like a hurricane barreled through and leveled everything in our world. But sometimes surviving the trauma of a hurricane is easier than living through the aftermath. The years that ensued were long and dark. We were thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt, and each month we found ourselves deeper in the hole. We were plagued by confusion, doubt, fear, anger, regret. Our emotions were frazzled. Our marriage was in shambles. Did God really call us? What about His Promises? What about our hopes; our dreams? Whatever our theology was, it wasn’t working but we didn’t know where else to turn. It wasn’t until we were introduced to Reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, and sound biblical theology, that we started to get our spiritual bearings. Once we got a hold of right doctrine — over the course of time, through the washing of His Word, and in covenant community, we began to heal and emerge from a very long night season of the soul.
I won’t lie and tell you that I would ever want to go through that again. But, I will say that I wouldn’t trade what I went through for the world. Romans 8:28, which, in many ways, is my life’s theme says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Bound up in this verse are beautiful truths that offer comfort and consolation to Christians in trial and hardship. Today, I just want to focus on 3 of those truths.
#1: WHEN YOU CAN’T TRACE HIS HAND, TRUST HIS HEART: The doctrine of the Sovereignty of God teaches that all things are under the jurisdiction of God. The great theologian Abraham Kuyper once said, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” There are some who repel against this but the Sovereignty of God means that God not only allowed it, He designed it. And if He designed it, then it’s good and I can trust it. I still don’t know why certain things went down the way they did but I know that, for the Christian, nothing happens by chance and even the bad things are working for our good and His glory. Sometimes we get to see how things get worked out; other times we don’t. But by faith we receive it, and one Day, it will be clear.
#2: TRIALS HAVE A PURIFYING EFFECT ON OUR FAITH: There are depths of His mercy that you & I will never know apart from suffering. For me, I truly had no idea of the depth of my own depravity. Embedded within my theology was the proud and lofty notion that there was something inherently good in me that was worth saving. And after salvation there was this sense that I could maintain His pleasure by my service. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Bible says, “There is none righteous.” I am convinced that you will never know the amazing grace of God until you understand your own depravity. Understanding this doctrine of total depravity also helped me realize that even if I suffered as an innocent party — before God, I’m not an innocent woman and anything bad on this side of eternity is frankly, nothing compared to the hell that I deserve.
#3: THE WORLD GROWS DIM AND JESUS GROWS BRIGHTER: If someone were to tell me today that everything I lost could be restored if I would just be willing to part with Jesus, I would say, “Keep it!” I don’t want it.” If losing everything means gaining Christ, then be willing to lose it all a thousand times over! This world and everything in it is passing away but Christ is forever. And He is more precious than anything! If you are in the pit, but you have Jesus, then praise God. You have all that matters. You have all that lasts.
Charles Spurgeon once said “I have learned to kiss the wave that strikes me against the Rock of Ages.” And that’s what I want to leave you with today. If the wind and waves are bearing down on you; if you are in a trial (whether it is public or private) God has not sent it to destroy you. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Trials are gifts, sent it in love, to refine us and prepare us for the Glory that waits.
 John MacDuff, The Promised Land, 1859