By Traci Bolden

Traci was born and raised in Louisiana. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Louisiana State University, Shreveport. She served as Center Director for Care Net Pregnancy Services counseling women and families facing unplanned pregnancies. She and her husband have been associated with Care for Pastors for 12 years. In February 2023, she joined the staff as a faith-based counselor. Traci has been a Pastor’s wife for over 32 years and has a heart for serving women. She and her husband, Robby, have been married since 1990 and have three daughters, Kristen, Kaitlyn, and Hannah.

    The Transforming Gift of Uncertainty

    Monday, July 01, 2024

    The word transformation has been running around in my head over the past few weeks. I asked myself, “When and how have I been transformed?” The first thought that came to mind was that I knew I was certainly transformed when I accepted Christ into my heart at age 14. My life has not been the same since, regardless of the season I have found myself in, but I realized as I pondered that question, most of what I reflected upon and could remember was how tough ministry has been and how those experiences have transformed me.

    The first time I felt that first blow from someone in our church was like a cold punch to the gut. Our leaving was a complete blindside to me. With two babies in tow, all I could do was sit back and watch others make decisions for my family without any regard to consequences. I was only 29 and green as grass as far as ministry goes, let alone dealing with ministry hurt at the hands of people I loved. Within three weeks we were living in Florida. I honestly felt like a spectator watching someone else’s life fall apart. I wasn’t sure how, but I tried hard to cling to scripture because it was the only thing that quieted my soul in the middle of all of the questions. I honestly didn’t have time to be angry because I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to be angry about. It was just a deep pain in my heart that could not be consoled.

    While I was packing up all of our things from our very first home, the place I thought I would raise my children, the Lord gave me a verse I honestly had never read before:

     “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5

    It did not mean much to me at the time, other than I knew that it was the Lord’s reply in scripture. Habakkuk is one of the smaller books in the Bible, not often talked about. You certainly don’t stumble across it on purpose.

    Within a few days of hearing this verse for probably the first time, I spoke on the phone to an older gentleman. I had no idea who he was, nor did he know me. He served alongside my husband as a trustee at Southwestern Seminary. I still could not tell you his name to this day. He knew of our current circumstance and wanted to speak with me to somehow encourage me as a young pastor’s wife. Looking back, I am certain he must have known all too well what I was feeling and the questions I had. But I don’t think he had any idea how his sweet, tender, raspy voice brought such encouragement to me that day, not because of what he said, but because of what the Lord had spoken to my heart earlier in the week. He began to talk about Habakkuk 1:5 and, as he read it to me, the peace that flooded my heart in that moment was enough to remind me that what was taking place in our little family was somehow part of God’s plan. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t like it nor want it. I had so many questions. Why was this happening? Why would God allow these people to treat us this way? Why was God not setting things right? Even though my heart was full of uncertainty, I was completely confident in the Lord that day that he saw me. He made sure that I knew that he saw me through the simple words of this older gentleman.

    From that day forward, a transformation began to take place inside of me that can only be explained through the power of the Holy Spirit. I began clinging to the promise that the Lord spoke to Habakkuk. That HE was doing something that would amaze me! Something I wouldn’t believe even if someone had told me! The days ahead were scary yet filled with the expectant promise that God was doing something.

    I didn’t know it then, but that was not the last time our family would experience deep wounds at the hands of people we loved. Each time, in every season, through the anger, the crying out of tears, and seasons of depression, I clung to Habakkuk 1:5. I still do.

    Uncertainty Invites Growth

    The name Habakkuk is derived from the Hebrew verb “embrace.” His name probably means, he who embraces or he who clings. His name is well-suited because of how he comes to a firm faith through his struggle with tough questions.

    When I think of Habakkuk, I am so grateful that his words were recorded in scripture. The hidden treasure that is found in the dialogue that takes place between him and God is so encouraging. Habakkuk had the privilege of conversing directly with God. He was bold enough to humbly ask “Why” with the right attitude. Not only was he bold enough to ask, he was confident as he waited for the Lord to answer.  Habakkuk 2:1 says, “I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.”  When you look at the word reproved, by definition, it means to correct, usually gently or with kindly intent.

    Habakkuk waited expectantly anticipating that God would correct him. He didn’t ask God this question because he thought God needed to be corrected. Habakkuk was saying, God, I do not understand what You are doing, but I know that You are right in all things. Please tell me and correct me. He demonstrated trust during a time of great personal uncertainty and distress. He demonstrated that no matter what is going on around us, we not only can trust God and his perfect timing, but we should place our trust in God who is sovereign in all things and in all circumstances.

    This situation is played out almost every day at Care for Pastors as counselors listen intently to the stories of injustice taking place in the lives of our clients—the blindsides, forced terminations, backstabbing, gossip, betrayal, doubt, even wickedness. It is difficult at times to wrap our minds around the fact that we are called to live by faith. Our faith is not a one-time act, it is continuous, a way of life. We are called to persevere throughout our life.

    Our hearts at times wrestle the same way that Habakkuk’s did.  His questioning and crying out resonate in the hearts of those who serve the Lord and have endured or witnessed suffering.

    But it was Habakkuk’s choice, in the middle of all of the injustice, to choose to worship. Worship is what transformed him and allowed him to understand what bold faith feels like. Habakkuk 3:17 says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Even though Habakkuk wrestled with God’s justice, he chose to exercise his faith by rejoicing in God rather than focusing on the troubling circumstances going on around him.

    God’s reply promised that he would make everything right. His sovereign purposes were being accomplished. His reply to Habakkuk gave us enough reason to say, Lord, I will trust you and your wisdom over my own. The Lord requires his people to trust Him even when things don’t seem to be going according to our plan. Even when nothing makes sense. Proverbs 3:5-8 instructs us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”

    Uncertainty invites growth. When we encourage our clients to place their trust in the Lord, as he requires, during uncertain times, a beautiful transformation has the opportunity to take place. A transformation of a heart being dependent on a sovereign God when they don’t always know what is next.

    Even words can be transforming for others as they try to understand and process the injustices that are being forced upon them. Just like this gentleman in our early years of ministry had no idea how the Lord was moving in my heart, he was obedient with his words. His words were enough for me. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

    If the Lord lays something on your heart as you minister to others, be bold enough to say it. Be bold enough to ask the question, with the right heart posture.  The power of words allow God to transform us and our situation. We can confidently know, according to Habakkuk 1:5, that God is always doing something, and He only does what is right.

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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