Updated: Sep 19, 2018
It’s funny how people respond when they hear you’re going to the mission field. Some are excited for you to the point of jealousy, while others sound more like a State Department travel advisory—bringing up all the differences, diseases, dangers, and difficulties. I listen to both, because in the work of missions you encounter both. The Apostle Paul testified to this fact in I Corinthians 16:9 “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” Yes, with great opportunities comes conflict!
When we examine the biblical biography of Paul, we quickly learn that his entire ministry life was immersed in conflict. Conflicts arose when he preached the Gospel, planted churches, trained leaders, and penned Scripture. Best I can tell, not a season went by when there was not something going on in his ministry that threatened to derail him. But for Paul, it was worth it.
II Corinthians 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
May God grant us the ability to accept the difficulties in our ministries. I pray that for myself as I fight against an insatiable desire for a greater ease of ministry. That continual cry of, “Let there be no difficulties! No accusations! No hurts! No setbacks! And Lord, give me immediate success without having to sweat, bleed or weep!”
Do you ever hear that demanding, selfish voice in your head? Perhaps we should go back and read the testimonies of the saints in Scripture and church history in order to be reacquainted with this simple spiritual truth: ministry is not supposed to be easy!
Truthfully, nothing that’s worth doing with your life is easy. If there is no price to be paid then there is no value to be assigned. Cost is hinged to worth, and the less something demands of us then the less it will ultimately mean to us. (Salvation excluded, obviously! But I would add that it is a lie to say that your salvation costs you nothing. In a sense, it will cost you your whole life when you declared yourself dead to self and alive in Christ (Galatians 2:20).)
Serving the Lord is a privilege—yes, it has its hardships and frustrations—but at the end of the day, it is far more rewarding to battle for Truth than to take the path of ease and comfort that produces nothing more than wood, hay, and stumble. Staying in the fight is worth it. It catches the eye of the One who called you to serve and He promises to reward our labors of love (Hebrews 6:10).
We love to sing the song, “It will be worth it all…when we see Jesus…life’s toils will seem so small…when we see Christ…one glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase…so let us run the race…’till we see Christ.” It will be worth it all, but may I submit that it’s worth it all right now.
See, the greatest benefit of serving the Lord is that each conflict we face can draw us closer to Him and the closer we are to Him, the more we get to know Him. As I write these words I am confident that I need the awareness of his presence more than the activity of His hand. While I crave both, I am learning that it is better to have Jesus than ministry success.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Philippians 3:10