As followers of Christ, we very often forget that we are engaged in a serious spiritual battle all around us.
Once I counseled a Christian leader who was deeply discouraged because of the sudden pressures he was facing in his ministry. Some years ago, this man had graduated with top honors from engineering school and was employed in a foreign country. He had plenty of money, a huge house and everything else he could wish for in life. One day his father, just prior to death, wrote him a letter, which ended by saying, “Son, remember you have only one life. It will soon be gone. Make a decision how you will invest your life.”
The last sentence of his father’s letter caused him to resign from his job and leave everything to follow Christ’s call and give his life to serve the Lord full time. He and those he led all were serving the Lord quite well and his ministry was growing when he came to me so downtrodden. I was a bit surprised to see this brother in such despair—wanting to give up the ministry and run away from the organization in which he was working—and ready to fall to pieces. I wondered what had happened to him. He is known as a man with great understanding of the Lord and His Word, and he has a deep walk with God.
So I sat down and listened to his story. This is what he said:
“My wife and I and our children gave up everything we had to serve the Lord. We held nothing back. Now I am facing misunderstandings with my coworkers and criticism from other people. I don’t know what to do, and I can’t take it anymore.”
I patiently listened and let him cry about all the terrible things that had happened to him. To me a lot of them seemed insignificant, but he was being destroyed by them.
In the end I said to him, “Brother, let me tell you an instant solution to all your problems. If you follow my advice, I guarantee you total recovery from criticism, problems, misunderstanding and even the sickness you are facing.” His face lit up, and he was eager to hear my solution.
“Brother,” I continued, “go home and tell your wife and children that you are getting out of the ministry and that you might go back to engineering or join an organization that doesn’t get involved with the spiritual battle in this world.”
What I said visibly shook him up. He had not expected this kind of solution.
“I am not joking with you,” I said. “I am dead serious. Tell me, did you have any of these problems before you walked away from engineering?”
“No,” he answered. “I had a mansion, servants, cars and everything was going great.”
“Brother,” I said, “now your life is all messed up, and you are being destroyed. What you’re looking at is cause and effect. The reason you are having all these difficulties is because you are actively fighting against the god of this world. The apostle Paul was engaged in this same battle and look at what he faced.”
I opened the Bible to 2 Corinthians 11:23–28 and showed him the list Paul made about his sufferings for the sake of telling others about Christ’s love. He was shipwrecked, beaten, forsaken by all, near death, hungry, misunderstood and so on. I told him the best way to get away from all these troubles was to stay home or do something besides ministry. “However, if you want to serve the Lord, you don’t have many choices. You will not only face your present difficulties, but all of them will be multiplied a thousand times in the days to come. But that is what Jesus promised. Will you accept it?” I asked.
I prayed and encouraged him, and he went back to his home. Not long afterward, he sent somebody to tell me that his life was completely turned around. Now he is not expecting an easy road. He is fully expecting service to the Lord to be a battle and a struggle.
I myself needed that same encouragement when I was “down” some years ago. At that time, I called a longtime friend and mentor, and told him that I was in bad shape. This is what he told me, “I’ll tell you what your problem is. You are looking for peace. When you are working in ministry, you never get out of the fight. You get into one battle; and as soon as it is over, you get into a new one. This is a nonstop war and difficulty.”
Since that talk with that brother, I have never again looked for peace or for a time when I could say, “Oh wonderful, everything is going great.” No, I am prepared for battle and for staying in through the difficulties. I get wounded sometimes and discouraged. All of us do. This is normal in a battle!
But like Paul we can say: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). In the end after the battle is over, we will still be standing and going forward. That is God’s promise.
This is not fatalism. No, we are overcomers through Him who loved us. So by life or death we serve Him, knowing that He is our victory. There is no other way to go forward.
You are not your own—remember that blood was the price Jesus paid for you!
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and international director of Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, and international bestseller with more than 3 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia is a nonprofit serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. Gospel for Asia supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. Gospel for Asia is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.
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