Monday, August 15, 2011

Women of Faith Conference: What I Learned

I mentioned that I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Women of Faith conference that I had the chance to attend over the weekend. I’d never been to one before and carried the assumption that it would be a lot like church, with sermons where you take notes and flip through your Bible and learn more about Greek root words and historical explanations. I love that kind of stuff, but thought that two days full of it might get pretty old, pretty fast.

As it turns out, I did learn a couple of Greek root words, but I was more impressed that the women who took the stage at the conference weren’t there to lecture us. Instead, they were there to open up their hearts, share their stories and tell the thousands of women gathered there how God met them in some of their darkest hours: There were stories about marriages falling apart, spouses suffering, babies being buried.

But they were more than just that. They were also stories of hope, as they told, through real and raw tears, how they cried out to God in those moments, begging him to get them through these tragedies—and how He did. That was the refrain that threaded through session after session: God is here. God will get you through this. Don’t give up on God.

It reminded me a lot of the Testimony series I ran on here a few months ago, where many of you opened up and shared how God was with you in hardships and struggles. The fact is that we need those stories and we need to have those to look to, because we are going to face hardships and struggles. Mine may look differently from yours, but we both have to walk through our own fair share.

So when I hear what she went through and how God was present in her time of need, it builds my faith to face my own with the confidence that though the clouds billow and the rains pound, God will come alongside me and shelter me from the depths of the storm.

One of the biggest things that struck me about many of the women who shared their stories from the stage, shared them in light of the fact that they aren’t all beautifully wrapped up in a bow, where you shout "Hallelujah!" at the end: One woman’s husband has a brain tumor and they’ve been praying for a miracle, but have yet to see it happen. Another woman was told her baby wouldn’t survive, and they prayed for a miracle, but the baby died hours after birth. These are not the stories we rejoice over in church; but they’re the stories of women who are learning to trust God even in the midst of uncertainty and struggles that linger on.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the conference, but I know that when I walked out, it was with a deeper awareness of God’s love in spite of our circumstances and a bigger trust that God is with us, no matter what storms we face.

If you want to find out more about this year’s Women of Faith conference, which will be running events in cities across the country up until Thanksgiving, visit their website.

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