I am thankful for the part time job I have at a small country church in the next county. It is approximately around 15 minutes from my house. So as the drive goes, It really is not that far, and I have some good one on one time with God as well as time on some days when I can have some quietness of spirit. Today, as I was zipping back toward the house I began looking at a woodsy area that lasted for a few miles. In that particular area, someone had done a control burn. This is popular in our area of Georgia to make sure the undergrowth is kept at bay, and if there was a fire started by lightening etc., it would be easier to handle. So as the burn happened a while back, I could see how the trees and flowers were recovering. I am amazed at the resilience of the foliage that God created. It was taking time, but it was recovering. The black ground had new growth and the leaves on the trees were greening out. It was something to see.
Here lately, I have encountered a lot of men and women in ministry who are going through suffering. They are being “burned” by people inside and outside of the ministry. More than once in the last few weeks, I have heard church ministry leaders say that church ministry is hard. You know what, my friend? It can be hard. I don’t always understand why things happen as they do. When I have more questions than answers, I take them to scripture.
In my searching and praying on this topic, I have come to some conclusions. Let me say that I don’t claim to know everything. Hey, I am not Jesus. I do strive to be like him every day and to be a willing pupil of His teaching. I can say that I have been in the trenches of church ministry for 27 years with my dear husband, and through suffering God has taught me some things that I never could have learned any other way.
So, here is one of my conclusions! Only one for now, so hang with me if you will.
Ministry is hard, but God never told me that following Him would be easy. I’m not sure why this point did not occur to me years earlier, but it really hit home for me several years ago. I am called to serve God. I am called to love the people in my congregation. I am called to follow the Lord and His Word. While doing these things, I have been in the position where somebody didn’t like it. I have been where I have been hurt by those who are hurting. I have suffered at the hand of those who disagree with my husband who was doing what was right. I have had times where someone tried to hurt my family members with cutting words and backstabbing. In these times, I have learned that I am not the first one or the last one to encounter this scenario. So I go to the Word!
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:12
Everyone who is trying to do what is right is going to suffer persecution. This verse in II Timothy says, “all”. Did not all of the disciples of Christ suffer bad things at the hands of others?
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18
In these verses in Romans, when I suffer with Christ or because of Christ there is a benefit that I cannot get any other way. God’s glory will be revealed in me. Through suffering I am becoming more like Christ and a little less like me. You see, this suffering that I am facing it’s for my good. In my flesh, I can’t handle the emotions and arrows of hurt flung in my direction. However, I am not suffering alone. I am suffering with Him. In Christ, I know that I will receive the benefits far beyond what I can imagine. I may not receive the glory right now. The glory might not be till I get to Heaven, but that should not stop me from taking on the suffering with Him. I need to accept it as a part of being where I am right now, and doing what I am supposed to be doing. I may not like the suffering, but some things must be endured. I have to keep my focus on God through the midst of the suffering I am facing. I keep my focus on my God, and look forward to the glory that will come for the suffering I faced cannot be compared to it. I can experience joy today because I am in this place with Christ.
I need to be one who is willing to walk the hard road, and in doing that I may be burned sometimes. I must remember though the burning process new growth will take root and flourish. I will not stay as I am. I will recover and I will be closer than ever to the God who has walked beside me through it all.
At the end of the day, everything I suffer is for my good and for His glory. I have even heard a song written about this. I think it’s time to look it up again and take a listen!
Blessings to you,