“WHAT am I doing here?” might be the felt sentiment, as we feel abandoned—if not by people around us—certainly by God. Most people entering any sort of ministry (i.e. a venture for helping people) are flatly caught out at the lack of support they felt they otherwise might receive from certain quarters, during certain ‘seasons’. At times, those who are even at closest quarters can reinforce the supposed absence of God in the mix of a call we received from him. Then we begin to doubt this “call” ever happened.
And many servants of God end this way. And this is a great pity as they give up their substantive identities in the process. It’s not an unfamiliar landscape—just about anyone who’s genuinely responded to the call God’s placed on their life can identify. God will appear absent, especially after some point post-honeymoon period, which can be years hence from the jumping-off point.
In serving, we can expect resistance, challenge and tumults. We can expect this from people we’d otherwise have considered to be getting support from. We truly learn who our friends are. God uses this time to show us who we can rely on—it’s a test of others as well as a test of ourselves in responding appropriately to those we’re surprised and perhaps hurt by.
And there are times too when we’re out in the cold, and it’s quiet within and without. We wonder if we’re making any sort of worthwhile impact for others, for God. We are—it’s just quiet and the feedback has trickled to a stop. It only seems futile. This really tests the innate call placed on our lives. Can we persist and go on despite the polar silence?
Martin Luther King got it right when he said,
“The ultimate measure of a [person] in not where [they] stand in moments of comfort, but where [they] stand at times of challenge and controversy.” (Modified to be gender inclusive)
This might perhaps be the biggest test we’ve ever faced, or will ever face—though there’s likely to be many of these—as God gradually conforms our thinking. We can know people all our lives and even be friends—but the mark of a true friend is someone who’ll faithfully stick by and probably even support us. They won’t be threatened by the God-call and our new identity in him, as we would not be if they responded to some good thing. It’s a test of faithfulness.
And this simply underscores the importance of some level of loving support in ‘our corner’ as we slug away at this thing called “ministry”. We find that through good friends, God is very much with us. He reinforces our value for him through them as they encourage and challenge us.
God is not absent in all this. He’s present in everything, and if he’s called us, he’ll be faithful—he will complete the thing in us.
It’s when we recognise the Presence of God in the mix of the resistance that we finally develop the resilience of the sages—and go on to the greater things of spiritual ministry. Success begins to look different.
These are not things that can be measured by a worldly metric.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.