Today I am not writing this blog post. Instead it is written by a guest blogger named Andrew Adams, who you can read more about after this post. If you are new here, I post every Monday on a variety of topics, as I am led by God.
Anyway, here’s today’s post:
James 1:2-4 (NIV) tells us to, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
As missionaries, pastors, church workers, etc. we all face trials, but we may not recognize them or know how to deal with them.
I know I do. I sometimes have a hard time working on the mission field. It’s foreign. The style is different. The schedule is crazy. I have a marriage and family to nourish as well.
So, to use David’s words, I’ve gone from the green pastures of comfort to the valley of discomfort. But what does Psalm 23 say?
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
In Psalm 23:1-2 all is good.
David knows that the Lord is his shepherd and he lacks nothing.
In verse 3 he knows that his path is guided by the Lord…. He has so much trust in the Lord!
But then in verse 4 he goes from all this good stuff about green pastures and quiet waters, a refreshed soul, and right paths to something crazy.
Despite all that good, David says he is walking through the darkest valley.
But he doesn’t fear because God is with him and his rod and staff comfort him.
So, in the darkest valley where fear, confusion, and challenge are weighing down upon him, where all the questions come up, he is comforted.
So, that’s Key #1: God is with us in the struggle
Key #2 is to recognize the struggle.
Areas of repeated confusion, doubt, anger, lack of joy, and dissatisfaction are indicators of a struggle. These are areas of our spirit battling our flesh.
These struggles, unrecognized, tend to grow and get out of control. We don’t want to be wrong or uncomfortable.
We begin to turn our struggle into other people’s problems or blame our situation. Then we lose our joy and begin to become dissatisfied and disobedient.
So the struggle, meant to be a time of pruning and producing perseverance, becomes a hindrance.
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
So we must recognize the struggle and remember that God is in it with us.
Key #3 is to have a vision.
We all know that without a vision we are lost and unproductive, we perish without it.
A vision is precise. It’s a clearly defined goal with a detailed plan. And it has a timetable for being achieved.
We must also remember that Jesus chose us, has a vision for us, and desires for us to bear good fruit, not just be busy doing stuff.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
So, going back to my struggles, when I have a cultural issue, I begin to find peace in the trials when I remember that God is in it with me, recognize the season of the struggle, and look back to the vision Jesus has for me.
It’s not all about me being right and comfortable. It’s about growing into who God has called me to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Adams is a husband, father, Missionary Associate through the Assemblies of God, and blogger at heinspiredme.com. He is passionate about seeing people enter into life with God and helping them become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. He writes regularly on a wide array of Christian living topics.