Thick Skin is Protection

The third testimony, is the blessing of thick skin.

I was introduced to the ugly world of racism as a very young child. Growing up in the South, I only made it 4 years before white classmates were pointing out that I was black, and introducing me to the n-word. I took only a few more years for my "nerdiness" to become apparent, isolating me from black classmates as well. From elementary school even until the present, I have always been the oddball. I get along well enough with most people, but mostly on a "we were both there so we sat together but we never talk to each other outside of class/work" level. I have very very few close friends, and have been like this since I was 8 or 9 years old. Like any Christian who is following God's word, my likes and choices reflect ideas that our society calls "out-dated" or "too-traditional." It takes thick skin to openly declare that you do not engage in premarital sex. You will be called a prude, old-fashioned, and undatable. It takes thick skin to admit that even after attending a college ranked in the top 5 party schools, you don't drink that much (or at all). You will be called boring or a wimp if you are male. It takes thick skin to say you don't agree with homosexual marriage. You will be called a bigot, regardless of whether you are actively trying to stop people from having rights or simply answering a question about your beliefs. God's way of life was never meant to be "cool" or "hip" and it certainly wasn't meant to make people accept, like, agree with, and look up to you.

A lot of pastors these days preach prosperity, prompt church goers to focus on the rewards of believing in God and quote phrases such as "ask and ye will receive" or "God will make a way." Yet, often, they do not reflect on the fact that God's promised reward is in Heaven, not on Earth—the majority of scripture shows God's followers being persecuted and ill-favored by the powers that be on Earth. Jesus even says explicitly that we will be persecuted. Think about it, Noah has to watch (or listen to) everyone around him die, Abraham and Sarah have fertility issues for most of their life, Jacob works 7 years for the woman he loves only to get cheated into working another 7 years, Joseph gets sold into slavery, the Israelites also become slaves, Moses never makes it to the promised land... That doesn't even cover 25% of the Bible!

Life is tough, and whether you believe in God or not, you will struggle maybe for a little while, may for a long while. If you are following God's way, the majority will turn against you (remember the Bible tells us that most people will be deceived and will wonder at the beast/anti-christ—the beast/anti-christ who is persecuting Christians!). Believers who don't understand this often lose faith when things go wrong because "if there was a God, He wouldn't allow to happen." Yes, He would and yes, He did; He even left examples of it happening in the Bible, a warning that it would happen, and a promise for better after the battle is won. No one gets through life without some amount of pain, suffering, and failure. These experiences teach us to be strong and prepare us for both the opportunities God has in store for us as well as for spiritual battle. God started preparing me for this reality at the tender age of 4, and since then I've grown into a confident adult who doesn't need the world around me to approve of my thoughts and actions to be confident with who I am. God blessed me to be an oddball, which has allowed me to stay true to myself and true to Him.

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