I’m sitting by my Christmas tree and the baby is napping and I want to take a few quick minutes to jot down a few encouraging words of perseverance for my fellow sisters in ministry who are hurting right now.
This week has been rough, ministry wives. You’ve written and inboxed and honestly, my heart hurts for you. I was singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” this morning with the congregation and tears flooded my eyes for several sweet friends who have been hurt by the church and are floundering this week.
“And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth, I said…”
We assume that there will AT LEAST be peace in the church, don’t we? And that’s what makes it hurt that much more. Idealism. Expectations. “We’re serving God and now this.” We imagined it one way and the reality is that people are sinful and people disappoint.
I don’t know all the details.
I don’t know who is right or wrong.
I don’t even know WHY this is happening.
But I want to encourage you with a few absolutely grounding truths that we must remember during hard times.
Whatever you are going through, whatever has happened, THIS MOMENT is a peek into your heart and a test of your current spiritual condition.
Ouch. I know that hurts. I know because it’s convicted me many times. But that’s the truth of it.
See, we care about outcomes and setting things right, but God cares about having our heart closer to Him. During this hard time, what are you doing with His Word?
I don’t just mean reading His Word. Treasuring it. Obeying it. Walking in it whether you feel like knocking someone’s teeth out or not.
We want to be heard and understood, but God wants closer fellowship and communion with us. Sometimes He uses trials for this very purpose.
So, today, in your hurt and frustration, how you respond and what you do with God’s Word RIGHT NOW matters. We reap what we sow, and we all know that and have taught it.
Wrap your mind around the basics and fight to think Bible truth.
Is God in control? He is.
Is your life spinning out of control? It is not.
Does God have a plan in all of this and does He expect a certain response from His people? He does.
This may seem like pouring alcohol on a cut, but sometimes hurt and confusion can linger a little too long and morph into anger and bitterness.
When we believe that God is in control and that He is truly doing what is best for us, we can step forward confidently into an unknown (unplanned, unwanted!) future because our good God goes before us.
We can give our emotions to God to rule more easily when we realize that He’s the one in charge.
It always comes back to our heart responses, doesn’t it? And sometimes that can be frustrating.
We want God to change them and intervene for us. Some fire from heaven might be nice. JK!
God does work in His time, but, plot twist–He wants the heart of the evildoer as well as He wants good for you. God is long-suffering.
Don’t believe FOR A MOMENT that the people who hurt you will get away with it. We all reap what we sow.
The proud reap resistance from God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Imagine what God must think of the proud in His church—a place of humility,unity,and peace– who use it as a place to pamper their pride and use others. Let that sink in. (Think in human terms about how you as a parent would respond to a caregiver who was supposed to nurture your child, and you find out later that they used and abused the child. Righteous indignation, I would say.)
The God who sent His Son to die for you…
don’t think for a minute that God won’t deal with that person.
If you have a minute sometime, read Numbers 11:33-34. It’s about how God gave the complaining Israelites the “thing” they complained for. The “thing” in this instance was quail.
Whenever I see a ministry leader who is contentious, I think of this quail story.
Quail= whatever idol is lurking in a man’s heart.
The frustrated fruit of the unmet idol is complaining and discord.
And when a ministry leader is not content with what God has provided or the opportunities He’s given, they either withdraw in self-pity (HOW COME NOBODY RESPECTS ME OR REALIZES JUST HOW WONDERFUL I AM!!?)
or assert and take up arms in their own defense (I AM GOING TO DO THIS WITH ZERO CONSIDERATION FOR YOU OR YOUR WELL BEING BECAUSE I’M ALL ABOUT ME RIGHT NOW)
The ruling belief is that there is not greater cause than SELF and someone has to look out for #1.
This is where it gets ugly. We often hear of church splits over the color of carpet or the stupidest little things…and we wonder how people in “ministry” could act so shortsightedly and self-focused.
How could someone who claims to live for the glory of God pick up arms over decorations or committees or preeminence. The answer is pride and covetousness which is idolatry.
And here’s the thing, hurting ministry wife: GOD allows them to do this.
God doesn’t make people puppets and robots. He gives them free will. So while they look like they are prospering, remember the rest of the story: God often gives them what they want and withdraws, sending leanness to their souls.
God’s not a player. He demands your heart.
You want to step on others? Okay, but disobedience to my Word comes with consequences.
You want to be the big shot, ruling your own little mini-kingdom? Okay, but God’s not coming to your little party. He’ll wait until you are over yourself.
Leanness. God resists. Withdraws.
Enough of them. What about us?
We can quickly let ministry hurts overwhelm us and control us rather than allowing the Holy Spirit and the love of God to constrain us.
Bottom line: God is going to show you more of Himself through this trial if you look to Him in your pain. God is the prize and after the tears, I hope you’ll realize how dear this truly is. More of God should be our end goal. And God will use WHATEVER to achieve this. He cares more about your responses and your HUMILITY than He does about almost any other detail.
And know this:
God does move people and lead through the misdeeds of others. He may physically move you, yes, but He wants to lead you into a closer fellowships with Him that you might not have had before if that person had not sinned against you.
And if you’re not sure of the next step in your ministry–
I have seen time and time again how the sin of one person became a conduit of ministry for another.
Perhaps his busy schedule makes him seem unapproachable so people in need come to you, because you are available.
Her sharp, judgmental tongue is a turn off, and hence a conduit that sends younger women to you for safe advice and encouragement. Her moody demeanor is unpredictable, so tired moms look for someone who is joyful and welcoming and seek you out.
My fellow ministry friends, just keep your eyes on the Lord, even in trials. Your ministry might change. Your location might change. But God never changes and right now, and forever, He’s most concerned about your heart.
If your heart is right with God–all the ministry details will work themselves out and you’ll never “lack” the ministry opportunities He wants for you.
Praying for you, ladies!