“NOTHING STANDS THE TEST like solid character.You can handle the blast (of adversity) like a steer in a blizzard. The ice may form on your horns, but you keep standing against the wind and the howling, raging storm because Christ is at work in your spirit. Character will always win the day. As Horace Greeley wrote: “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures.” – Charles R. Swindoll, Hope Again
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that led you to utter the words, “I am caught between a rock and a hard place!” or worse, “I am caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea!”? Have you ever been confronted by a sense of overwhelming adversity with a foreboding sense of defeat? Or were you ever tempted to blame the series of unfortunate events of your life for the compounded failures and frustrations that ultimately caused you to lose your once unquenchable drive for adventure?
Have you found yourself compromising your principles and losing your ground simply because you have no other better option when you found yourself pushed to a corner?
If your answer to these questions is a yes, then I have a story especially for you.
Let me tell you a story of a young girl who was born in the most unthinkable and seemingly most uncertain of circumstances. She was born a princess, the second daughter of the king of England. Her mother was seen by the public as the king’s illegitimate second wife who was said to have been only married by the king in the hope that she would produce a male heir to the throne. When the princess was yet to be born, everyone, including the palace physicians and astrologers, were expecting a prince. After her birth, her mother once again became pregnant but the subsequent miscarriage convinced the king to have their marriage annulled and, if that is not enough, have her subsequently beheaded over trumped up charges of treason, incest and adultery.
The young princess lost her mother before she turned three. And she would grow up knowing that it was her father, the king, who had her own mother murdered.
Although she was the second of three half-siblings, the birth of her younger brother pushed her down the line of succession to the English throne. She was considered an illegitimate daughter after the death of her mother, she was a Protestant in a time when Protestantism was viewed as a religion of heresy, and she was merely third-in-line to the throne.
Her half-brother became king at the age of ten. And after his short reign, he died childless — a scenario that made her older half-sister queen and elevated her as second-in-line to the throne.
The queen, a devout Catholic, viewed her as a threat to the throne. She was seen as the Protestant alternative and, because of this, was incarcerated in a tower to keep her in isolation and minimize her influence.
The queen was forced to produce an heir to prevent the English throne from the possibility of being ruled by a Protestant queen. Her sister desperately tried but failed to produce an heir. The queen died and the Protestant princess, an illegitimate daughter whose mother was in effect murdered by her own father ascended to the throne.
These were the series of events that led to the coronation of Elizabeth I, the Queen of England and Ireland, who was also called Gloriana and the Virgin Queen. She is arguably the greatest monarch to rule England.
Looking at the circumstances that surrounded Elizabeth’s personal life, no one in their right mind would have thought that she would one day become queen. She was, at best, like a spare tire to the English throne — a motherless and illegitimate and third-in-line heir to the throne at that!
But all things truly work for those who love God. Elizabeth’s story is but a testament to this. She could have chosen to be bitter and vengeful towards her father for having her mother murdered. She could have compromised her faith to gain the favor of her older half-sister Mary I when she was still queen to avoid being persecuted and incarcerated in a tower. She could have found herself a suitable husband to help secure the interests of the English crown during a time of Spanish and French dominance in Europe. All these she could have done but she did not. She chose to trust God and believed that her life was in His hands.
The Greek word for faith is “pistis” and it directly translates to English as “trusting”. Note that it is in the present tense. To have faith is to continuously trust God regardless of the circumstances that we face. It is having an understanding that we are held by an infinite-personal God who is almighty to deliver us and who dearly loves us for He is our “Abba, Father”.
The early life of Elizabeth may be considered by most people as turbulent but an even greater adversity in her life happened during her reign when the Spanish king and the duke of Parma unleashed the Spanish Armada, one of the greatest war fleets in the history of naval battles, to subdue all of England.
It was during this time that Elizabeth’s leadership and fortitude resonated across all of England. By the way she rallied her people to victory, we see that someone who was once considered an illegitimate heir to the throne was being prepared by God all along for the fulfillment of His greater plans and purposes.
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“My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourself to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people … I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm.” — Queen Elizabeth I
The English victory over the Spanish Armada is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of warfare. It is also a story about an unlikely queen whose journey of faith was upheld by God when all measurable factors indicate a victory for the enemy. The life of Elizabeth is an adventure that sailed across the most turbulent seas and conquered most powerful tempests. The perfect storms of life lose their power to illicit fear and cause panic every time we choose to stand in promises of our almighty Heavenly Father. In every adventure, it is never about where we are going but who we are traveling with.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” – Romans 8:28-30