Today I would like to address a topic that many might skirt because it doesn’t seem proper to talk about. The question is this: how do you handle working hard day in and day out and seemingly not being able to fulfill the callings God has placed on your life? And harder still, how do you handle it when someone either less qualified or less experienced gets the promotion or gets what you want? It’s easy to offer vague statements about God’s timing or being patient, but the hurt still lingers.
Let’s look at the bottom line: that promotion would help you better provide for your family. That ministry opportunity would allow you to share the word God has given you to a greater audience. So why would God allow you to stay in your small ministry or your menial job? I think the answer is simple yet profound: there are others who are at where you’re at right now and you can speak from experience when ministering to them. You are not alone in feeling like a failure; millions wish for a better life. They have to hear their children asking why they can’t buy that toy or worse still, they hear the cries of a hungry child. They feel abandoned by colleagues who have moved on to bigger things and have left them to sit in a cramped and lonely cubicle. Hundreds of ministers preach each week to congregations that could fit in one or two pews. They wonder what they did wrong or what it will take to fill the other fifty empty chairs. Years of crying out for their city to have revival and it hasn’t come.
In the midst of despair, there is hope. This hope is not found in the things that you think you need–the new job, the new church, or the new publicity. It is found in one simple truth–no matter what, God is with you. Jesus, when He ascended to heaven, didn’t promise the disciples wealth (which He has nothing against) or safety (which God provides to us so many times); He promised He would be with them (and us) always. His presence is what we should desire most. When we dwell in His presence, we gain His perspective on life. He is not as concerned on our earthly success as much as He is concerned with our sharing His love with others.
He will bless us richly only as we commit to caring about others. Truth be told, there is only poverty in the world because those with more hoard their riches and do not share (although let it be known I don’t support some forced redistribution of wealth). In the family of God, no child should go hungry but they do. And oftentimes the pastor of the church knows about the need but can’t do anything about it without having his own children go without. These are lessons you learn when you’re small. And if you learn them, oftentimes you will move on to bigger things. But you will remember. The large church must help the small. But if you go straight to the top without knowing what it’s like to know hardship, you risk caring more about fancy curtains or new cars.
Jesus Himself took the hard road; He toiled in the carpenter’s workshop for years. He spent His time with the fishermen and tax collectors. He had the right to royal processions (which He still will have). He was the Word yet He spent His earthly life listening to self-righteous rabbis who twisted the Word and added burdensome regulations of their own to it. But He pressed on, enduring even the cross and so must we. Why did He endure all He did? He did it to bring as many as would listen to Him into the healing presence of God. Our aim should ultimately be the same.