How many God-fearing people do you know today that have suffered shipwreck, been arrested, thrown into prison, and beaten severely with a whip? The apostle Paul became overwhelmed with the suffering at the hands of others. In fact, 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9 he speaks of suffering beyond his ability to endure. He felt crushed and overwhelmed! Through this, Paul learned to stop relying on himself, and started relying on God!
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and thought we would never live through it. In fact we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 2:8-9 NLT).
The Christian church is suffering today, especially right here in the United States. Not from shipwreck, imprisonment, or being beaten with a whip, but in a different way. Our suffering today has arrived in a different package, but from the same vendor. We are fighting a spiritual warfare and many church leaders and pastors are becoming physically and spiritually fatigued.
Our suffering is different, but real. Many of you in ministry are feeling the effects of change.
Like the apostle Paul, you may feel “crushed and overwhelmed.” The result is that we are reminded that we cannot rely on our own ability, but that we are to rely on God.
There are reasons for this difficult season, but here are three things we can do:
- Stay balanced. “If your output consistently exceeds your input as a leader, you’re on the road to bankruptcy.” -Carey Nieuwhof. What are some things you are doing to stay spiritual and physically healthy during this crisis?
- Stay focused. Keep looking at the big picture. What are some realistic goals that you can set for yourself as well as for your ministry? Begin to look ahead more, instead of focusing on the past 5 months.
- Stay Connected. Make sure you stay connected with people that can encourage you. Also, make sure you are returning the favor. Be an encourager to others.
I am sure there are many other things we can do to overcome the challenges of today. The most important is that we do not rely on self, but we are learning to trust in God. Together we are better and with Him all things are possible. Thank you for serving!
You are loved and appreciated!
-Bishop Tim Lamb