I once heard someone say something like, “Don’t be envious of someone’s spiritual maturity… you never know what it took for them to get there.” It’s true. Many saints have had to endure difficult if not impossible situations and those things have sharpened their walk with the Lord.
We were at Care Effect one regular Wednesday night… For those of you unfamiliar, Care Effect is an outreach ministry with First Baptist New Orleans. In short, Care effect is reaching out to our community… the community God placed us in for such a time as this. The community God gave us to love. The particular ministry my husband and I (when I’m not teaching kids to sing) is in Gentilly. We feed the homeless delicious, hot meals cooked with love. You can read more about it by clicking on the logo below!
One night we were out in Gentilly doing our regular thing: Set up table, Wipe down table, put out plates, utensils, cups…. lemonade, and something yummy… then we wait. Wait for those familiar and sometimes unfamiliar faces to show up and share in the goodness of some earthly nourishment and pray that some take some living water away with them. This night was special. You see, we serve a lot of Spanish speaking men at this station. The problem is… none of us speak Spanish. Hm. So we’ve prayed for a solution. That night we had a solution! A young woman who was a new Seminary student decided to join us at our station. You’re already seeing this one, I bet… she’s FLUENT in Spanish. What a joy! We were thrilled to hear her welcome these men and they responded in kind! This was the sign of something great to come. This young lady is now a sweet friend of mine but I’ll just tell you (and I don’t think she’ll mind :)… she is one of those sweet, southern girls… Texas all the way. I’m not sure she had really experienced the… let’s say… depth… of the New Orleans experience at that point. So it goes… we’re serving, she’s welcoming… we’re smilin’… then we hear a little skirmish breaking out in our little corner of this world. When God is at work, it seems the enemy always wants to come and crash the party. I’m happy to say she is still pluggin along at that station… serving the Lord! Long story short, one man had a bike. The other man said it was his bike. The first man strongly disagreed. We all paused and realized something bad could be about to happen. The first clue was the yelling and then the one man saying something like, “I’m gonna shoot everybody” while holding something in hid pants. Then… like a scene out of a John Wayne movie, the mystery professor walks over, ever so smoothly to these 2 men and the growing crowd. I couldn’t hear everything he was saying. It’s probably best that I couldn’t :)… but the mystery professor is cool, he is calm, he is ever so collected. I can see him making hand gestures… workin’ the crowd… building peace between the two… he was clearly full of Jesus. He was confident. Confident in Christ. A little while later the gun-slinger takes the bike and leaves… with the promise that the mystery professor will go to his home, get his bike and give to the other man. It was like I had stepped into a Bible story… a parable… We continued serving and after the jitters of anxiety had dissipated, we were smilin’ again.
HOW in the world was the mystery professor able to be so cool under such pressure? Clearly this man has spent HOURS in the Word and in prayer. He and his amazing wife had also spent 26 plus years with the IMB serving in the tumultuous Middle East. Hard work. Huge commitment to the Lord. Do you suppose he and his wife endured many trials in order to grow in the confidence of the Lord during their time overseas? His wife said something to me in the midst of the hoopla like, “You think THIS is bad?… this is NOTHING compared to Israel.” I suppose not 🙂 They are confident. Confident in Christ. I admire them. I pray my confidence will be in Christ alone…
Don’t forget why you are suffering. Remember your purpose and Whom you
serve! The Apostle Paul said he was willing to suffer for the proclamation of the
Gospel, for the sake of the elect, and for the glory of God. Our suffering, big or
little, can be used to bring about the same purposes.
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead . . . as preached in my gospel, for
which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:8-10)
The Lord can use our trials for our good if we will give our hurts. trials and adversities to Him. So let’s count it all joy, my brothers and sisters! Be encouraged… the Lord can use your trials no matter how difficult, to make your more mature and more Christ-like.