Towards the end of 2021 and fully at the beginning of 2022, we began asking God for specific clarity in the future direction of our ministry journey. We have been at a very “difficult to minister to” church for 13 years, the years surpassing what we thought we could endure and what others even thought to be wise.
We had reached the point where we believed God had released us from the responsibility of making this church healthy, but had not yet given us direction to the next steps. As the year drew on, we got glimpses of hope to stay and other times of despair that we would ever be rescued from the unhealthy and ever-growing damage to our mind, body, and soul. Towards the end of 2022, by our request, my husband was granted an 8-week sabbatical. Combined with 2 weeks of vacation, we planned a 10-week biblical sabbath with plans to rest, refresh, renew and recharge. The church and its leadership had been well prepared to carry on in our temporary absence. We carried out our plans for this sabbath rest and spent our time well. We accomplished what we had set out to do; recover from the 13 years of battering abuse, apathy, and abandonment. We were ready and prepared to return and continue if God guided in that direction, and equally prepared to leave and start fresh in another ministry and place. What we did not count on was to return to even more chaos generated in our absence, a newfound apathy and dissension amongst the people. We were so disappointed and could not see how we could ever help “fix” the new issues that had cropped up. We felt “DONE!”
We were looking for clarity in the rescue that would take form by God’s hand in our lives. We were looking for change, new, different, healthy…all the things that we had tired of and become weary because of, we wanted to put behind us and move on. We begged for rescue.
But the days, weeks and now even months have passed, the calendar has changed, and a new year has begun. Still looking for clarity, we prayed, we worked, we looked to God for answers. We wanted to go.
But God brings clarity in the form of His choosing not our definition of what we are looking for. God’s clarity has come in the form of a question. “What if God’s plan is to leave us in this hard place to bring Him glory?” But how?
In just the same way God chooses to heal some and not others.
In just the same way God chooses to strengthen His disciples through suffering and persecution and sending them into storms.
In just the same way God tested the faith of Job by removing his life blessings of wealth, family, and health. Job 36:15 “But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.
In just the same way that for now it seems that God is leaving us in this hard place to bring Him glory.
But how? By continuing in the calling of bringing the gospel to the lost, ministering to those that are hard to love, by loving our enemies despite the treatment we receive, by turning the other cheek at insults and working diligently despite the apathy of others. By honoring God in the hard places to bring Him glory.
So, has God granted us clarity as to His plans for us? I suspect He has. Perhaps for just now as far as we can see to the next day. Perhaps for long term until our days on earth are done. Perhaps until we have learned and grown and brought Him the glory through our suffering.
I recently heard of a football coach who gleaned some wise guidance from a navy seal. He was told that when a navy seal comes upon a hard, or maybe even impossible situation, they look it straight at it and declare “Okay,” then proceed to face it head-on. This football coach had adopted this strategy to guide his players on the field. So, we now adopt this strategy for life.
Now the question is this; Will we accept it? I suspect we will. For we have asked, and He has spoken.
“God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?” (Job 36:22-23 NIV)
I realized that we have gotten used to others showing pity to us for our hard places. And some pity has been warranted and even welcomed. But now it is time to stand up, stand firm and live in the hard places that God has planned for us and is leaving us in and strengthen our faith to bring Him all the glory.
Today we look at the circumstances of the hard place and say “Okay” and proceed to face it head on.
Perhaps as you read this, you are weary and feeling DONE. You are begging God for rescue from a hard place. Perhaps it is time, or time again, to ask God to bring clarity to you in His plans for you. Is it for healing or will your suffering bring Him the most glory? Is God’s place for you in the hard places? Is it time to say, “Okay?”