In The Face of Difficulty

It sure feels good when ministry is going smooth.  It can even cause me to think that that is the way it should be.  However, as much as I like it, that isn’t what is promised (check this out for proof - http://www.esvbible.org/John%2015%3A18-27/) and it isn’t what the biblical record shows us that the early church experienced.  With that knowledge, we shouldn’t have expectations of easy, comfortable or smooth…

How do we face the struggle when it comes?  How should we respond to persecution and difficulty?  The early church had been dealing with much of this type of thing and Acts 4:29-31 helps us understand how they responded and helps us develop an action plan for how we should as well!

[29] And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants(1) to continue to speak your word with all boldness, [30] while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” [31] And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31 ESV)

When struggle comes my way my flesh usually wants to lash out.  That lashing can go towards something (a company, a church, an ideal) and can also go towards individuals.  Notice that when the early church dealt with struggles that they pointed their energies in the direction of The One who could do something about it - God Almighty.  They sought Holy God and laid their situation before Him.  If I spend all my energy placing blame or seeking retribution then I will have very little energy to seek God or to serve Him.  My ministry actions will be diminished in both energy and enthusiasm.  

Sometimes I seek God in the midst of the storm but rather than asking for what I truly need (so that I can be of Kingdom value) I ask for what I want.  ‘God, fix this person.  God, stop that group.’  The early church shows us a model of prayer in that when they prayed they asked God to empower them to be able to ‘continue’.  Continue to do what?  For them, it was to continue to speak the Word with boldness.  That translates into you and I doing the same and also shows that we should focus on the continuance of the Mission of God no matter the surroundings.  If you are a Church Planter then pray that you may continue to be effective in making disciples no matter what you face.  If you are a seminary student then pray that you may continue to prepare to serve God no matter the difficulty.   

When we pray in this way we can expect God to empower us to continue and we can expect that His Holy Spirit will be in operation in our lives in ways that shake up the world around us.  When we seek God’s Will rather than our comfort we can trust that His Will is going to be done on the earth as it is in heaven.  

Ministry life will be wrought with difficulties.  Church Planting may have more than the average.  Being prepared to respond biblically in the face of difficulty is key.