Earlier this week I attended a workshop that was designed to help equip pastors with the tools they need to counsel folks through some of the challenges of life. It was an interesting workshop, with lots of good information about how to help folks whose lives have been impacted by the sinful world we live in. To help us understand the scope of the counseling needs that are currently presenting themselves in churches across the country, the instructors spent time listing statistics on the number of people caught up in alcohol and drug addiction - or have been victims of sexual, physical, or spousal abuse - or have been perpetrators of abuse - or are addicted to pornography - or addicted to gambling.
I will admit that after just an hour of listening to them review the staggering numbers of folks caught up in these situations, and the enormous scope of the need for churches to help counsel folks through these situations, it was hard for me to not start to mentally shut down. It's not that I didn't believe the information, or that the needs weren’t legitimate - it's just that the scope of the needs seemed overwhelming. And I found myself wondering how a small church like ours would be able to have any significant impact on these enormous problems.
Fortunately, the Lord knew there was more for me to learn at the workshop - because, right about the time I was ready to check out, one of the workshop presenters read Galatians 6:9, which says: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” When he finished reading, he told us that particular verse is printed out and hanging on the wall above his desk to help him not get discouraged. And it was the perfect reminder for me as well. God used it to encourage me to not focus on the scope of the problems, but instead, to focus on persevering in what He’s called me to do - and then leave the results up to Him.
And what's true for me in ministry, is true for all of us - in all areas of our lives. The reality of life is that it comes with challenges. And the other reality is that it's often easier to quit than to persevere. This is especially true when it comes to our spiritual lives - when it comes to letting God root habitual sin out, or when it comes to serving Him in specific areas to which He's called us, or when it comes to surrendering our lives fully to Him. The life God calls His Children to is a challenging one - and the enemy can make it seem like we'll never be able to make it through. But what Galatians 9 reminds us is that, if we keep following God in doing what He's called us to do, we WILL make it through. The key is, we need to stay focused on Him, and trusting in His ability to provide all that we need. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this point in Philippians 4:13, where he writes, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
So today, let's not let the challenges of life overwhelm us, or keep us from serving God. Whether it's challenges in our spiritual lives, ministry involvements, work places, or our relationships - let's stay focused on how God has called us to live, and then let's live that way - trusting Him to provide all that we need.