When my husband and I first entered full-time ministry, I was certain I knew how life would play out. But after five short years, we had packed our bags to leave, now certain we were unfit for the calling. Ministry has a funny way of turning our ‘certainties’ on their heads.
Unforeseen developments (like a global pandemic) can strip a leader of confidence. Criticism of how they handle a crisis can cause a leader to question their ability. Equating favorable outcomes with a confirmation of calling has the potential to teeter leaders not just close to the edge of losing the joy of salvation, but send them over the brink with no idea how to get back.
I wish I could tell you that ministry gets easier, but I can’t. In many ways, the older, more experienced, and more educated I become, the more I see the folly of my youthful certainties. Now, twenty years later (and by the grace of God still serving Him in ministry), the only certainties I bank on are: God is good. Every word in the Bible is true. Every person will face trials. God is good. That last one deserved repeating.
It’s in the difficult moments of uncertainty that the testing of my faith produces steadfastness, and I must let steadfastness complete its work in me because the trial ultimately leads me to hope (James 1:3-4). Romans 5:3-4 is clear, if I want hope, I must understand it comes from character. Character is produced by perseverance, and perseverance is birthed from suffering. Every leader must decide if it is worth fighting through suffering to find their hope and joy in the Lord.
The trials will come. They may come in the form of a virus sweeping the nation or they may come in some other format, but no matter how dark or difficult they present, joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30 is a beautiful reminder that joy comes as you praise God in the trial, for He has saved you from eternal harm. Joy comes as you realize that God claims an ultimate victory for His people. You cry for help, and he heals you, rebuilding the broken places in your soul. God lifts you from the depths of despair and restores you to life, putting songs of praise on your lips. His anger is but for a moment. His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may visit during the darkness of night, but joy comes with the sunrise. God makes you strong when you plead for mercy, and He turns your mourning into dancing. You might not dance today, and you might not dance tomorrow, but you will dance again. You will dance clothed with gladness, and as the dawn breaks, your praise and your thanks will rise as a fragrant offering to the Lord.
Morning by morning God must be your delight. If not, lesser substitutes will attempt to fill the void. These lesser pleasures will fail to deliver the satisfaction they promise. They will leave you wanting. True satisfaction and true joy are not found in pleasing circumstances. They are found in the raw moments that—if you let them—will produce perseverance, character and hope; and hope will not disappoint.
The weeping may come, but so will the joy.
“Chasing Holiness” by Stacey Weeks
We all chase something. It might be a degree or career, a husband and family, the approval of man, or a perception of social success. We long to pursue the things that matter, we long to chase the Lord, but we are weary. What would happen if we redirected our energy toward developing the character traits and disciplines that Christ calls us to pursue? What if we sought ways to increase our endurance and strengthen our faith? What if we stopped aimlessly running and instead chased the disciplines that would earn the prize that mattered?
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