Last July someone contacted me and stated with great surprise, “I am amazed that you are still serving the Lord!” Now, at the time my family and I had just moved, and we were getting settled in our new church. The caller had not called to be critical that we were still serving the Lord, but rather to say how thrilled they were that we were still serving the Lord. My conversation with the person who called was very brief, and did not discourage, but it did not encourage me either. You see, I knew my inward struggles. I knew that the Lord and I had had many conversations about what He had allowed into our lives. Oh how I wish that I could say that I was constantly living on the victory side, but sadly, I cannot.
All around our world there are people facing great heartache, struggles, and even walking through valleys they never imagined possible. Over the last year phone calls have come, emails have been sent, direct messages through social media have been received and one of the common threads of each have been people seeking advice about “how do I make it through the difficulties they are facing?”
Just recently I received another such message from a brother in Christ whom I have never met. He stated that he had been “watching from afar” and was contacting me to ask advice on how to make it through the storm that he is currently facing.
Let me be clear; just because someone goes through a storm does not mean they have all the answers about how to make it through the storm.
That being said, it must also be said that as one goes through a storm, it is imperative that the individual be yielded to the Spirit of God so that they can learn everything God has to teach them during the storm that they face.
Obviously I am speaking to the saved believer who faces a storm. If you are reading this and you do not know Christ as Saviour I would beg of you to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour today. Do not delay! Our church website has a very clear gospel presentation as to how one might know for sure that Heaven will be their eternal home. Click here:
Far too often we find ourselves getting so focused on what we are facing that we fail to realize that there are others who are facing difficult times as well.
Back to the message I recently received.
As I responded to the dear man who had messaged me I did not have to ponder long before giving this man an answer. In response I wrote to him what I say in this blog.
In response to your recent message I find myself writing with more intensity than normal as I seek to encourage you and remind you that you can make it through the hard-times you face. Let me first remind you that our anchor must be the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our Shelter in the time of storm, He is our Haven of Rest, and the Rock upon which we stand, hope, and build our lives. Any problem that a believer faces is either because God is trying to break us so that we will get right and back in tune with Him, or He is trying to build us so that he can do more with us for His service. It is up to each believer facing a storm to determine which the Lord is trying to accomplish in their life.
The Devil is constantly seeking to attack the Christian. You see, the devil does not really care about hurting the Christian – he just seeks to hurt God, and Satan knows that the greatest way to hurt God is to hurt His children. Years ago I purposed in my heart that I would not be someone that the Devil could use to hurt the heart of God. Now, because of my flesh I have not always succeeded, and there have been plenty of times where I have had to get alone with my Saviour and ask His forgiveness for failing Him.
Throughout June, July and August of last year there were seasons that I was “done!” I seriously contemplated “throwing in the towel,” and not serving the Lord as I knew He had called me to serve. Truthfully, there would have been many who would have understood me no longer serving the Lord in full-time ministry, there would have been some who would have thought they won if I stopped serving in full-time ministry, and then there would have been others whom I had encouraged to never quit who would have immediately thought me hypocritical to tell them they should not do what I was now doing – quitting.
Preacher, do not forget that the Lord has called you to stand at the helm of your marriage, your family, His church there in (such-and-such city), and there is a city that needs a lighthouse where the gospel shines forth brightly. There is no excuse one can conjure up that is good enough to give you right or reason to quit on Him. I am proof that there are times when the Lord will relocate us, but I never want to be the example that when He moves us it is also reason to no longer serve Him. No sir! As soldiers of the cross we may be reassigned, deployed, re-deployed, and find ourselves engaged in the heat of the battle, but we have no right to go AWOL, we have no right to put down the Sword of Scripture, we have no right to call it quits, and we have no right to turn our back on THE ONE who went all the way to Calvary for us!
It is decision time preacher! Right now you are facing a situation that has surprised you, but it has not surprised God. You have a wife who is watching you! You have children who are watching you! You have church members who are watching you too. There may be some attacking you, but there are many more watching to see what you will do. There are those members that have no idea how to cheer you on, and so they do so by continually showing up to church. STOP thinking that everyone is against you! There are far more people for you then there are against you!
My new friend, remember this, your strength does not come from the support of family or friends, it does not come from words of encouragement by those you come in contact with each day. No, your sole source of strength must come from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Keep on reading the Bible even when it feels like you are just staring at the pages. Keep praying even when you feel like they are simply words. Keep seeking after the One Who called you; for whom the Lord calls He also equips. It is time that we as preachers practice what we preach. Talking the talk is the easy part, but walking the walk is where the “rubber meets the road.”
Fight the good fight of faith and do not give way to the pettiness of those firing the darts of the wicked. Put the armor of God on every day! He has promised that with the shield of faith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. So, keep the faith my brother!
As I close I will say this…there was a time last July when I had to ask myself this questions, “when do we serve the Lord?” I penned the following list in the back of my Bible. I have read over it many times, and I will read over it many times in the future. It is not an exhaustive list, and I would encourage you to add reasons of your own to it, but here is my list.
When Do We Serve the Lord?
- When our name is made mud
- When attacks come and when they don’t
- When friends turn to foes
- When ridicule turns to cruelty
- When everything is going right
- When everything seems to be going wrong
- When you have friends of plenty
- When you have fewer friends than yesterday
- When people believe in you
- When people believe lies about you
- When your child is born
- When your child dies
- When there is money in the account
- When there is no money in sight
- When heroes of the faith fall away
- When heroes of the faith arise
- When you are standing to preach every Sunday
- When you no longer preacher every Sunday
- When you marry right
- When your marriage falls apart
- When your children have a heart for God
- When your children walk away from God
- When you are in the center of God’s will
- When you find yourself seeking for God’s will
- When you are seeing people saved by the droves
- When it seems like no one is getting saved
- When your freedom is being threatened
- When your freedom is assured for the moment
- When there is light at the end of the tunnel
- When the tunnel is so dark you can’t see your hand
- When you can read Scripture and the truth’s flow
- When you read Scripture and it seems all dried up
- When it seems you have no care in the world
- When your world seems like only chaos
- When you know your next step
- When you have no idea what the next step should be
- When people are talking to you
- When people are obviously avoiding you
- When the happenings of your life lead to happiness
- When the happenings of your life lead to sorrow
- When the joy of the Lord is truly your strength
- When the joy of the Lord is what you diligently seek
- When the blessings of God are falling
- When it seems like the windows of blessing have closed
- When your rest is calm and sweet
- When calm and sweet rest seem to escape you
- When the church members capture the vision
- When the church members start murmuring about the vision
- When health is good
- When health is bad
- When the Lord giveth
- When the Lord taketh away
“…Blessed be the name of the Lord!” – Job 1:21
As I close this lengthy email I want to say thank you for reaching out. I want to encourage you to stay in the good fight. There are many men of God who are facing trials, tragedy and trying times. Sadly, there are many who feel all alone, and they have no idea where to turn. Social media is not the place to seek encouragement. Let me know if there is anything I can do to further assist you.
To the reader of this blog. I know it has been long, and I thank you for reading to the end. I post this today as a way to encourage all of us to press on for the Lord. Everyone faces heartache, but that is not a reason to quit. Jesus has never quit on us – how could we ever quit on Him.
Happily married to Sarah G, the father of three incredible children.