By T. D. Jakes
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When You Are Crushed
Crushed. Broken. Lost. Hopeless.
When the floor beneath you opens up and swallows you into a free fall, you find yourself suddenly submerged in a flood of emotions, thoughts, and questions. In the midst of unexpected pain or inevitable loss, pitiful thoughts assail you as you sink into the emotional quicksand of life’s messy places, the muddy pits where everything you once held dear and true is questioned, dissected, and shaken to the core.
Here, your safety zone and all presumed constants are revealed to be far more fragile than you had ever realized. This is where you wonder if you will ever be on your feet again, and if so, then how you will summon the strength to move on. This is where your faith is tested, where it’s refined and purified. But such knowledge is little comfort in the midst of the blazing wildfires of life engulfing all you thought you knew and reducing expectations to ashes. Like a deer trying to follow a familiar wooded path in the midst of a forest fire, you begin running in circles, facing dead ends and disturbing detours, uncertain which way to go. Choking on collateral smoke, you’re left weary and wasted, calloused and confused, depleted and discouraged, frightened and frozen in place.
Part of the confusion results from the way life’s greatest successes often bleed into the blur of your most painful moments. Because even in the moments of your greatest anguish, you often find unexpected blessings alongside and commingled with your losses.
One of the biggest losses I’ve ever suffered was the death of my mother. But even as I watched my beloved mother waste away—a part of my crushing—I marveled at the way God continued to bless my ministry, my businesses, and my platform of influence. Leaders from around the globe began inviting me to visit, speak, and preach in venues I had once dreamed about seeing. My books were becoming best sellers, and movie producers were interested in taking Woman, Thou Art Loosed! to the big screen as a feature film. I would have traded all of it to restore my mother’s mind, body, and spirit, but God had a purpose.
And when my daughter was pregnant at thirteen—again what I thought was a part of the crushing period. Critics and haters of me and my ministry would pounce on such news like piranhas. Even as Sarah’s health and well-being and the life of my grandchild growing within her remained my priority, I knew I would be foolish to ignore others’ public responses to our family’s private situation. The irony, of course, was that the one person I would usually have turned to for comfort, wise counsel, and encouragement was no longer with me. I would never have my mother back.
I can’t tell you the number of nights I cried silently, staring out the windows of my home into the darkness. I never imagined studying the windowpanes would become my default hobby following my mother’s death. But night after night, there I was again, gazing into a dark night that reflected the one in my own soul.
I am not one to wallow in self-pity, but when I experienced that one-two punch to my soul, I could only sink into the quicksand of my sadness. So many nights I stared out the windows of my home, seeing in the darkness nothing but the reflection of my own glistening tears as they coursed down my face. I usually prefer to take constructive action in the midst of any mistake, mishap, or misadventure, but my new reality left me drained of my determination.
Nighttime holds a special place for our more desperate tears. We wrestle with trying to find sleep but are kept awake by the thoughts of our problems, the rehashing of our circumstances. The silence all around us somehow makes our thoughts louder and our situations direr.
Such was my season at that time. I felt trapped in my pain. Leveled by circumstances beyond my control. Powerless to protect those I loved the most. Unable to enjoy my life’s many blessings.
I believe that it is in these difficult moments—the crushing time—that it is even more crucial that we begin seeing that the plans we have imagined for our lives cannot compare to God’s strategy for fulfilling our divine purpose. Once accepted and acted upon, this line of thinking causes a massive shift in our perceptions, decisions, and behavior. We finally realize that we have been thinking on too small a level in contrast to a God whose endgame for our destinies focuses on eternity instead of something temporary. We sprint to win the race we perceive we’re running, but instead God is training us for the Master’s marathon!
Detours of Life
I’ve noticed again and again that routes to progress and success often take detours. Never is there a straight path toward either of them. Our advancement inevitably includes out-of-the-way breakdowns and unplanned pit stops that seemingly have nothing to do with our plans and purpose. We steadily travel down life’s highway toward our future until we find ourselves taking an exit to a place that wasn’t even on our map. It’s an unscheduled stop and perceived pause in our progress that threatens to destroy everything we have accomplished thus far.
Stranded and sidelined, we begin feeling anxious, afraid, and uncertain. As if striking out into something new wasn’t jarring enough, we become anxious because we didn’t plan on making any stops, let alone in deserted places. But then we discover something there that compels us, inspires us, and motivates us in a new direction. Suddenly we begin blazing a new trail that leads us toward a satisfaction and fulfillment that exceeds anything we could have found using our original itinerary.
And it’s all because we got lost along the way to where we thought we were going. Only God knew we weren’t lost any more than the people of Israel wandering in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land were lost. You see, I’m convinced life’s devastating detours often become the miraculous milestones charting a new path toward God’s future for us. The tumultuous trying, testing, and crushing we experience in those places is necessary for our advancement. More important, it’s imperative that our life’s painful detours be hidden from us before they occur, lest we forfeit the entire trip toward our future because of our discomfort with being diverted. In the moment, these crushing places feel like they will destroy us and derail our journey from what we’ve determined is our destination. We question whether the suffering we’re encountering will be the end of all we’ve accomplished and pursued thus far. We wonder where God is and why He would allow us to hurt so deeply.
But these crushing places also reveal there’s more to our lives than what we had planned. They force us to reset our compass on our Creator. As we look for His guidance and follow His direction, the crushing becomes the creation of something new.
Consider the way tons of rock and soil crush carbon deposits into diamonds. From the carbon’s perspective, the weight of the world literally destroys you—but it also creates something new, something rare and beautiful. Crushing places reveal that there is more to our lives than we had planned. The truly invaluable, marvelous, and eternal aspects of our identity and ultimate destiny are displayed to us there.
It is specifically upon the areas of personal crushing that I want us to focus our exploration in these pages. We don’t need to linger on what the moments of crushing actually feel like, because every person of destiny has or will become familiar with pain. The question that needs to be answered during our crushing is whether or not the suffering we are encountering is the end of all we have accomplished. To that inquiry, I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe the answer is a resounding “No!”
You might feel resigned to a life that’s less than God’s best for you because you cannot allow yourself to imagine that the best is yet to come. Even though the event itself may have been years or decades ago, the trauma of your tragedy may continue to trap you in the past moment, leaving you to focus on the broken stems and crushed fruit of your past achievements rather than the possibility of maximizing your potential through our Father’s divine process. Regardless of where you are, we all wrestle with the unexpected impact that crushing leaves on our souls.
You have probably asked some of these questions, but I want to encourage you to dig deep and think about them now as we move forward with exploring how this season can point directly toward your purpose, the one you are being planted and groomed and nourished for right now. As you journey with me through this book, ask yourself:
Could there be sanctity in my suffering?
Could my worst moments truly become more than shameful secrets of my past mistakes?
What if I could see my life as God sees it?
What if my best moments are waiting ahead?
My friend, I’m convinced God can use the weight crushing your soul right now to create His choicest product—if you will let Him.
Crushing is not the end!
Reflect on how you felt during a time of crushing. What questions did you ask? What emotions did you feel?
- On Sale
- Apr 7, 2020
- Page Count
- 128 pages