Some of the blogs that I’ve written have been theological and apologetic. Some have been encouraging anecdotes from the ministry. This blog, however, will be intensely personal and reflective, as I will be sharing some things that my present situation has forced me to revisit. As my family and I have been going through a difficult period in our ministry and life, I have recently been reminded of several things. I have had to go back to the Scriptures for guidance, but I was often quoting and praying them expecting an immediate answer of deliverance, rather than realizing that I needed to reckon them to be true, which is faith, knowing the Holy Spirit was applying them even before I would ever see the deliverance that I desired.
I had the opportunity to look again at some good guidance in a book called The Red Sea Rules. It reminded me that often when circumstances seem to be going against us, it is easy to believe that we are doing the wrong thing. This is especially true if you grew up in a highly legalistic environment in which little or no grace was shown. One of the most helpful things I have been reminded of is how faith can often be doing the next logical thing while trusting God. In addition, it is helpful to remember that even though we make mistakes, if we believe in the sovereignty of God then we are where He wants us now. That is not to say we bear no responsibility in the decisions that got us to a certain place, but He is certainly guiding our lives and choices. This does not mean He leads us into sinful actions. What it does mean is that our present geographic location, especially if we were seeking and following Him leading up to the moment we now find ourselves in, is of God. I say this because, as a missionary who ended up in Arizona and is facing some tough times in the ministry, I can believe that God brought me to Arizona even if it did not work out exactly as I had planned.
Another thing that I needed to realize is those bad situations aren’t always forever, or even ultimately bad. I continue to struggle with my sleep situation but that does not mean that I will always have a sleep situation to struggle with, or that the struggle is abnormal or wrong. This applies to many struggles Christians face - in particular, I am thinking of those who struggle with depression. The struggle with depression is not evil. It is more likely what you do within that struggle that determines where the struggle ultimately leads you (whether into evil and sin or somewhere else).
Finally, it is good to remember that small encouragements are not necessarily to be ignored; neither are they small. They are sometimes God’s way of letting us know that He is with us through the struggle and has plans for us beyond the struggle.