Ifeoma: Ruth- I loved her character so much that I wrote a 40 Day devotional *yet to hit publish* focusing on her trials, strategies, obedience and victories. I can relate with her because of situations I have faced in my personal life and how many were divinely resolved.
Anna: I hope you do hit publish one day. I’d love to read the devotional. Ruth’s story is so encouraging.
What is one of your favorite Scriptures and why does it mean so much to you?
Ifeoma: Wow, I have always struggled with a favorite verse because it changes each week or season.
Anna: Oh yes, I get that! God speaks to us where we’re at, doesn’t He? Which means different verses become a lifeline or much-needed encouragement in different seasons.
What events, circumstances or struggles in your life have been and/or continue to be your deepest valleys?
Ifeoma: Growing up was another thing altogether. My sisters and I struggled as kids, through hardships and lack. I know what it is to face rejection and abandonment especially from those called family. I also understand what it is to be that ‘angry kid’ or how it feels to grow up quickly and shoulder responsibilities. There is a whole lot God is pruning, chiseling, shoveling away from my life. But He did a good job covering every bit of shame we had suffered while growing up.
And lately my health has been a bit of challenge. I don’t like going to hospitals, waiting for reports, diagnosis or test results are the least of my favorite things in the world.
I am learning to lean wholly on Jesus no matter what. I know I have a lot ahead of me if Jesus tarries and I made up my mind to use all that He has given me for His glory alone.
You see, I am less than perfect, a steady work in progress and I admit, I still run into hiccups now and then.
Anna: That must be so very hard. Waiting and not knowing makes us lean heavily, doesn’t it. And what a journey God has already been taking you on.
In what ways have you experienced God’s nearness in these valleys?
Ifeoma: I have seen God in very dire situations but the hardest for me was in my recent months of challenges.
Sometimes, God never shows up when we want and how we want. That’s why He remains GOD.
I really wanted all the pain to go away. But I find myself breaking under the pile load of troubles rather than being strong enough to fight.
The Lord reassured me there was hope yet in my heart I struggled with doubt. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me through this moment of weakness else what kind of an encourager would I be if I am too weak to go through the trials I face?
I have peace but I confess I am always close to tears…before now I stopped picking up my calls and made my room my hiding place.
Then one day, I opened my wardrobe and found most of my clothes and shoes going moldy. That’s not right!
I realized I was rejecting God’s peace over my life. My hubby spoke life into my heart. Obi showed me how ungrateful I was.
“Lord, I have been ungrateful, I am so sorry”
…I have not appreciated His compassion but I have dwelt on my pain and disappointment.
A reminder of my frail humanity
A reminder of my weakness
That was when my miracle happened, when I saw gratitude in my struggles. Despite my all, I am grateful I am here. I praise God for His deliverance.
Anna: Oh, Ifeoma, what a wonderful thing to have a husband who speaks God’s truth and life, when you need it most. What a hard, hard journey you’re on, but what a faithful God you have!
Often, people apologize to us for these deep valleys: for the loss, the grief or the hard of our journey, wishing they could take it all away. What would you like to say to people whose hearts ache reading of your valley?
Ifeoma: Gal, we need true praying friends. Life’s road is easier when we walk with Jesus. But Jesus sends people to our lives.
I have learnt it is OK to cry sometimes. It shows you are human. Every of those tears touches His heart. The Lord knows when we are weak and that’s when we experience the power of God to sustain us.
I’d like everyone reading this to remember; The spirit of a man would sustain him in infirmity….don’t give up. No matter what you see in life, there is hope in Jesus. If today were your last, live it out with joy.
Anna: Thank you for this great encouragement, Ifeoma. So many good things we can do: pray, cry with and live in joyful hope.
In what ways have you seen God minister to others through your deep valleys?
Ifeoma: Surprisingly, I wrote about it HERE…I was praying along with friends who were in very difficult situations while I was also going through some too.
Does God use our story?
Yes He does but truthfully, I am in awe of how He does it! How a simple story can mean so much to one person that it brings the healing and may be the transformation they need. That can only be God!
I have people who write in privately and share their testimonies and I am grateful for them.
Anna: It truly is amazing, isn’t it?!
How have you seen God build community through your deepest valleys?
Ifeoma: Community is something we all need. Those connections and bonds form in very awkward ways sometimes whether through common experiences, sickness, grief or plain friendships I have seen God draw sweet ladies together. I have also grown as a Christian as a writer or story teller because of these bonds.
For instance, I write about a situation I or someone else is facing, the response is always overwhelming.
There are days when I don’t write not because I have nothing to say but I don’t want to miss that opportunity of knowing these real people behind the screen sharing their hearts through their writing.
When I stop by sometimes it is to pray, cry, laugh, smile, share a thoughtful word and learn a thing or two too. It will amaze you how much I have learnt and how many people I have met thus far.
Anna: Community is so precious, isn’t it? I know I too have found so much encouragement in visiting others’ blogs and have loved the opportunity to get to know some really well.
What obstacles have stood in the way of the ministry God has called you to through the hard? And how have you responded to these obstacles?
Ifeoma: After a few months of writing, I knelt down I asked the Lord if I could put it down. The book sales were not enough to keep the blog running, even though it was a free platform, I need to pay for internet connections and electricity bills and over here the prices aren’t friendly! That day my friend Stephane and I spoke over the phone she reassured me of continued support on the blog. Since then she and her sisters’ fellowship in Clayton North Carolina had been of immense support. That was a miracle and the nudge to keep pressing on.
There was a period I felt no one was actually reading or I wasn’t impactful. Then I heard the Holy Spirit say clearly “The race is not to the swift” that became my anchor scripture.
Anna: What an amazing story of God’s provision and community stepping in to bless.
What has worked against community from forming or being built up through the hard? How have you and others responded to these obstacles?
Ifeoma: There was a particular month there were negative comments. Oh my! You won’t believe I had it pressed in my heart to write about it. I figure God wanted me to go through it myself *smiling*. I had friends who stood up for me…hilarious I wave it aside and pressed on. My sweet friend Stephane wrote me to encourage me.
Yes you know true friends when you are in hot water….they go fetch you out of there. There will always be obstacles but if God’s people would loving support each other through them, it won’t be so hard after all.
Anna: I’m so glad to hear of these sweet encouragers. What one piece of advice or kernel of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers from your journey through your hard thus far?
Ifeoma: You cannot bend God into what you want. You can’t choose what He should do….He is Uncontainable! We can only allow Him to fill our lives and flood our heart spaces. We can only willingly obey as He leads us through the path He has designed for us.
*when I meant God is Uncontainable*
Sometimes we feel like failures because we want God to run our lives the way we want. We want to chart the course of our lives, then hand Him a copy. In my book Overcome failure; Get Back On your Feet, I share more about this.
In simple terms we want to play God like we created our lives. No! it is not in us to dictate our pace, our phase or which season of life to go through.(Jer 10:23 and Proverbs 20:24).
He is God and not “genie”
He is uncontainable.
He is not some robot.
In this phase of my life my anchor verse is, Job 14:7 (NIV):
At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.