Note: After today's post, I will take my customary winter break. I will continue this series on suffering in January. Along the way, in this series, I have tried to bring you some real life stories, people whom I know have suffered, and done so with grace. Today's post is one of those. I cannot tell you the author. I will tell you I have known him for many years; he has suffered with grace. May the Lord use this grace to minister to you.
What do you do when you are in full-time ministry and life throws you a curveball?
Some years ago my wife left me. As a man in full time ministry, not much else can derail your life like being rejected by your spouse. I could fill pages explaining my story, but instead of going through all the details and trying to prove anything, I want to simply share with you three major lessons that I learned through trials.
We are not as great as we think we are.
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
The truth is we NEED to get knocked down sometimes. When everything is going well and we are accomplishing big things, we start to subtly get arrogant and depend on ourselves instead of depending on God. I had a measure of influence. I was given the opportunity to preach in some large churches and rubbed shoulders with some of the “big” names.
Nothing wrong with that influence, but, boy is it easy to start thinking we have it all figured out.
My wife leaving me, revealed some areas that needed work in my life that I would never have noticed without being knocked down.
The blessing of trials is that it brings humility and increased dependance on God.
God is enough.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I felt like my life was over. I didn’t know how to go on. There is a stigma that weighs heavily on every divorced man or woman, especially in our ranks as independent Baptists..
They say a man used to be a drunk.
They say a man used to be immoral.
They say a man used to be violent.
For every other failure, we typically offer forgiveness, however when someone is divorced, there is always a cloud of suspicion placed over him or her.
My heart still passionately wanted to serve God. I knew things would be different, but I was determined, however it looked, I was still going to serve the Lord when the dust settled.
I thought about David. He desired to rebuild the temple. God told him no, he was a man of war and was not the right man for the job.
I imagine that hurt David, a man after God’s heart.
It is hard to be told no. Especially when your heart is sincere. David, however, determined that if he couldn’t build the temple, he could prepare the way for someone else.
Even if he couldn’t be “top dog” he was going to do something.
Whatever trial you face and whatever or whoever has hurt you, there is a place of service for you. You do not have to shrink into oblivion. You do not have to hide in the shadows.
The people and connections that I lost were not the reasons why I entered ministry. I answered a call from God and His Word. While, like David, things might look different in HOW I serve, I was called by God and MUST serve.
I lost a lot. I lost friends, I lost support, I lost influence… Not to mention I lost my wife and had to fight for a reasonable custody agreement. It was humbling, humiliating and looong….
I never lost my relationship with God… and that is enough.
You will smile again. Psalms 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
After my wife left, I needed help and counsel as much as ever. I am thankful I had Godly men in my life who could help me make some important decisions. It is just about impossible to think clearly when your world is turned upside down.
The pastor who had performed my marriage ceremony was very kind to me. He sympathized with me and then said these simple words, “You will smile again.”
I sure didn’t feel true. I felt like I was just existing, just trying to survive. He has no idea how much I needed that statement that day. It took time, years in fact. Some things are still hard.
In all of that, God has been faithful. He is in the restoration business. He can give you a life of value and purpose again.
I am now years out. God has given me a family schedule that is workable, a ministry that is pressing forward, great people all around me and hope for the future.
If you are dealing with a life altering change, look up and look forward, God is not done with you.