This has been a very challenging year. It has been a year when I have personally felt the most challenged spiritually in my life. It is also the year that I have felt the most fruitful ministry wise. I am of the opinion that the two are tied together. As my ministry brings more fruit, the life around me becomes more challenging. As fruit is reaped, attacks are waged. As one deepens one’s faith, one’s faith is more deeply challenged.
This morning, for the third time this year, I have been awoken in the middle of the night by the anguished cries of my wife. Each time I was sound asleep and each time I awoke and immediately knew that something significantly tragic had occurred. Today, we were called in the early morning to be told that my wife’s brother had just died of a sudden heart attack. He died at home with family. He died quickly. His death is a huge surprise to us all.
My wife is devastated, this is the second brother to have died too young. My wife is quite upset and at this moment packing her bags to catch the next possible flight to Guatemala. It will take her nearly 27 hours to get there. She will not make it in time for the funeral. But she will make it there to be with her family.
This past weekend my wife was challenged with a new ministry opportunity. She has been growing in service at our local church. First a nursery worker, then head of the nursery, a Bible Study assistant, then she led her own Bible Study group and now she is a member of the Women’s Ministry team. She makes a warm connection with women. They simply love her sweetness. No one ever wonders why I married her, while they may wonder why she married me. She is loved and respected. Her ministry is growing. Her depth of Bible study impresses me everytime we talk about it. Her words of counsel to the women have been filled with love and wisdom. She is being used by God in our little church.
But now this has happened. Now this tragedy is going to pull her away from ministry. This event will scar her deeply. She will not be ministering to others in our church in the coming weeks.
That is how our year has been. I have been trying to read my Bible, write my posts, conduct my Bible Studies, help lead a church, preach sermons and help disciple men. But instead, for this last year I have struggled with work. I have suffered a sore heel for over six months. Just two weeks ago, I hurt my back so bad that I have had to miss work and lay on my back all day. I can only stand up for a few minutes at a time. I even had a flat tire the last time I went to lead an evangelistic Bible study at church a couple weeks ago.
Why are we so challenged this year?
I believe that this year is a challenge for the both of us because this year we are making an impact in God’s Kingdom. We are trying to respond to God’s leading by working with others. We are trying to grow in our walk with our Lord. We are being attacked for growing closer. Why attack us if we were doing nothing of value.
I am of the belief that these challenges and trials will make us stronger. They will provide us the means to depend upon God even more. These days will give us the opportunity to share with others when they go through similar trials. These challenges will not stop ministry, they will only strengthen our ability to do more.
Just three weeks ago I spoke on Peace as a Fruit of the Spirit at our church. We went through the slides again today to remind us of God’s Peace. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding.
These verses have been especially helpful today…
Philippians 4:6 –7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Please pray for us as we go through these challenges. Pray that the peace that can only come from God permeates our lives so that others can ask us how we make it through all of these challenges. Pray for my wife as she ministers to her family during this challenging time.
Thanks for your prayers.