Recently I've read a rash of posts regarding the pains and struggles and frustrations of life in ministry. Here is one such example from earlier this week. Ministry work is difficult. Actually, that is quite an understatement. Sometimes it is downright gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. So for that reason, I didn't disagree with anything that I read. Certainly I have no argument with the post I linked to above. It's true. Every word of it.
But. . .
It's just not quite the whole story.
If you are in ministry, unless your entire congregation and community is made up of puppy dogs or butterflies, you are dealing with sinners every single minute of every single day. This means you WILL be sinned against. Period. And probably often. That's the reality of ministering to human beings, and there's no way around it.
But. . .
There is no greater motivation for pursuing the one perfect relationship in your life than understanding how imperfect your human relationships are. For every disappointment you experience with a friend or congregant, for every word spoken behind your back, every misrepresentation or even outright lie about something you said or did, and every attempt to undermine your ministry for no other reason than it isn't exactly what one person thinks it should look like, God offers not only his grace, but his power and approval. How earnestly does Paul remind us that God's power is made perfect in our weakness? (2 Corinthians 12:9) That by sharing in the sufferings of Christ, we are sharing also in the comfort only he can give? (2 Cor. 1:5) Would we forfeit this for a few less struggles? Some days in our weakness, maybe so. But OH what a paltry and temporary reward that would bring.
There is not a single moment of your ministry over which God is not sovereign. Which of course doesn't mean it will be easy. Let's not forget Isaiah 6. But if God has called you, he will not abandon you. Nor will he be surprised by the difficulties you face along the way. He is with you. Always with you.
For whatever reason, I felt like someone might need to read that today. Read the warnings too. All of them. Most of them are painfully true. Prepare accordingly. This is not an easy life and shouldn't be entered lightly. But nor should it be feared. We serve a mighty, mighty God whose sustaining power reigns over every hurtful relationship we will ever encounter. That doesn't mean we don't feel real pain. Sometimes enduring pain. It just means we get to feel real comfort and peace too. The kind that comes with power, and the kind that fills eternity. Yes, please. I'll have some more of that.