A time to stay

For the last several years, I’ve tried to be the light in a certain situation (outside my home—thankfully I have a wonderful godly spouse) and have suffered much for it. I finally decided enough was enough. It was time to leave.

I was relishing the idea of packing my proverbial bags when over the course of four days, three people I respect, individually and without the knowledge of the others, suggested I stay. One even told me rather boldly to pick up my cross. 

That’s not what I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to hear about patience in suffering either, but thanks to an editing project, God made sure I did. 

Many of us are in a ministry we never wanted. Ask the mother of the severely disabled child if this was her choice or the spouse of the addict or the parent of a wayward child. Ask the employee of a workaholic boss if this is where he or she hoped to be. Sometimes God calls us to shine in really difficult places. What then? 

  • Don’t complain. God knows how we feel. Complaining won’t change anything. Besides, God loves willful obedience. Jesus wasn’t fond of the road of suffering he had to take (read his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26 or Luke 22), but when God said it was the path he had to take, Jesus submitted. 
  • Don’t fall into despair. Elijah spent three years on Jezebel’s most-wanted list, and she was in hot pursuit. He just wanted peace. God reminded Elijah and us that he has everything under control (1 Kings 19). I don’t blame Elijah for telling God he’d had enough. With tears I just said the same thing in a friend’s office. But we can trust God too.
  • Lean on ministry partners. The apostle Paul was not ashamed to name-drop. If he wasn’t hoping to meet up with friends, he was telling a friend to come to him or saying who he was with at the time. Godly friends will pray for, encourage, and support us. That’s why it’s crucial we let them into our struggles. It’s so much easier to sing hymns in prison when you have a friend to sing with (Acts 16:25-40). 
  • Remember God equips us to do whatever he’s called us to do. The disciples didn’t think they were ready to lead, but when the Holy Spirit came to them, they went into the world and led boldly. God equips us to lead in the roles he puts us in too. We won’t get it right every time, but with the Lord, we’ll keep working with the strength he provides. 

The apostle Peter advised: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12,13). 

This was the thought that changed everything for me. I am being asked to suffer with and for Christ. He suffered for me. Because so much is at stake, I will continue to suffer for him. 

 

Amber Albee Swenson is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Her husband and four children keep life exciting and give her lots to write and pray about. Mother, wife, and author are treasured positions, but child of God is her identity.

 

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