May 13, 2023 | Caitlin Stanfield
Originally from the Isle of Man, Caitlin came to us in 2022 through our partnership with Four12. She is now serving with us full-time as a deacon and staff member, investing in our worship and kids ministries. She shared this message with our women at a recent ladies tea.
I’m from the Isle of Man, which is in Britain, and now that I’m living in the States, I’m finding that the stereotypes are more true that I would like to admit. I do drink a lot of tea. So, at home we have lots of different tea bags in the cupboard. Some of them would have been taken out of their packaging, so you end up doing the “sniff test” to try to work out what flavor tea it is.
But the best way to find out what’s in a tea bag? Put it in hot water. There’s a quote that says, “People are like tea bags. You don’t know what’s really in them until you put them in hot water.”
In other words, until you get put in hot water— a trial, a time of testing in your life, a hardship— then you may not know what’s truly inside of you. Often I’m surprised by what comes out of me when I’m put in hot water.
I think I’m a patient person. I’m cool; I’m collected. Then I go through a situation where I have to wait on God and I can’t understand what he’s doing and what comes out of me is anger and impatience.
I think I’m content. I’m content in the season of life that God’s has me in… until I’m scrolling on Instagram and see that girl that has her life together with the aesthetic profile, beautiful kids, and amazing house, and suddenly what comes out is jealousy.
The thing about sin is that it is an internal issue, not an external issue. The external thing just provokes what was deep inside of us. James 1:2-4 says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
That’s what God does when we get in hot water, right? The longer a teabag is in the water, the stronger it becomes.
And I love the NLT version, which says:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
Consider it an opportunity for great joy, an opportunity for God to work. I realize I’m not as patient as I’d like to be, so this is an opportunity for me to ask God for help. It’s an opportunity to learn to be secure. It’s an opportunity for God to strengthen me.
Even yesterday, I was talking to the Lord about a situation that I’m facing. This thing is complicated and hard and I don’t understand what he’s doing in it. And I felt the Lord say to me, “This is going to be a story for my glory.” There’s an opportunity in that situation, in that hardship, for it to be a story for his glory, because he is the one that rescued me out of it. He is the one that brought a testimony from that test.
In 2018, my grandmother in Northern Ireland was diagnosed with cancer and it came as a horrible shock. She had always called herself a Christian, but now she had to ask herself if she really believed in God, or if she just went to church. It was amazing to see my grandma suddenly choose to follow God wholeheartedly. It ended up becoming an opportunity for her to find him and be encouraged by him. Despite the challenges, she got the all-clear much quicker than expected, and it was a story for God’s glory.
But the Lord gave my grandma courage. Her sister could no longer speak, but she could still hear and listen. My grandma shared the gospel with her and prayed for her, trusting that the Holy Spirit was doing something in her heart. As she stood to leave the room, her sister said four words—”The Lord is my shepherd.” A story for his glory. If my grandma hadn’t been in hot water, would my great-aunt be in heaven right now?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We see in the Bible that when God’s people came out of Egypt, they were willing to be complacent, to stay in slavery instead of moving forward. But God had a promised land for them and in Exodus 3 he says:
I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey […]
I feel the Lord wanting to remind you that he has promises for your life, a land of milk and honey. It can be easy to hang back and stay in slavery. But don’t miss out what God has for you!
When the Israelites got close to the promised land, they were discouraged because giants lived there. They doubted the promise because of the obstacles. But Joshua knew his God was bigger than the giants. God said to them what I’m going to say to you— When it comes to the promises he has for us, don’t be discouraged by the giants. Have faith, be strong, take courage, and know that he has a plan for you.
When you’re in hot water, consider it an opportunity. Draw near to the Lord. When doubt comes, when you stop believing the promised land is out there, trust in his plan. Have faith, be strong and courageous.
While it can be easy to become complacent, remember that God desires for us to live purposefully for his kingdom, bringing glory and honor to him. Be active, be awake, and be willing, stepping out your comfort zone and taking risks for him. Seek to serve others, share the good news of Jesus, and show people the love and grace of God.
May we all experience a “fresh fire” for him.