Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This Ministry

Therefore, since we have this ministry, 
              as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.                
~2 Cor 4:1

Sometimes, I think this ministry in which the Lord has placed me is as much about His working in me than it is about the counselees. I am always amazed at the amount of heart change that happens within me as I work with the ladies He sends to me. As I listen to them and begin to think about the Scriptures and principles that will best minister to them, those very words also minister to me.

When I first came to the realization that my surgery had been botched and my mobility would be permanently affected, I really thought I would never be able to serve the Lord in this body. I thought the pain, limited mobility, and sadness would keep me from being effective for the Lord, and I had pretty much written off any possibility that I would have any kind of ministry.

But the Lord took hold of me, and refused to allow me to stay stuck in that thinking. He pressed upon me to continue my training, even as I attended classes on crutches and did case studies between physical therapy sessions. I started out hopeless and full of self-pity, but with each training session, each book, and each homework assignment, I began to see things more and more from His perspective, and less from mine. God did a miraculous work in me, and now I have daily opportunities to serve Him in ways I never imagined could be possible.

I’m writing all this not to boast, but to encourage you, my suffering friend, to change your mind about what you can do. Maybe you think that because of your disease or injury, God can’t use you like He used to. That may be true in some ways. If you were formerly involved in a ministry that required a great deal of physical strength and stamina, then He probably has something different in mind. Regardless of what you did before though, ministry is not a thing of the past. In fact, ministry could very well be the source of encouragement that will brighten your future.

As I have suffered these last several years, I have consistently prayed that the Lord would redeem my suffering. I wanted to see the good that could come from it, and He has shown that to me through this ministry. As I hear from some of you, and as I apply what I’ve learned to my counseling cases, I have come to realize that this suffering is inextricably woven together with the ministry that God has so graciously given me. I wouldn’t have the insight for ministry if not for what God has taught me through suffering, and I wouldn’t have the appreciation for suffering that I have, if God had not placed me in such a ministry! The Psalmist says it perfectly:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!  ~Psalm 27:13-14

Don’t lose heart! Believe that you will see the goodness of the Lord as you are living through your pain; as you are suffering through this life. In fact, like the persistent widow, keep coming back and asking Him to show you how He will redeem your pain. As you wait, be encouraged by the Scriptures. Stop lamenting the ministry you had before, and go after a ministry that fits your current capabilities.  God will enable you to do all that He calls you to do (2 Corinthians 4:2-3; 12:7), as He has proven to me over and over again.

My dear sister, you are so much more than your limitations. You are an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands. He will decide the function of the instrument. Your role is to cooperate with that decision. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you will minister to God’s family, because you are commanded to do so. Trust in your Father to fill in the blanks. He is faithful, and will use you as He sees fit, for His glory. Hallelujah! What a Master! What a Savior!