Week 6 Trust and Peace
Doesn’t He Leave the Ninety-Nine?[i]
If you love God first and best and serve others out of that love, then peace—the Christian equivalent of happiness—will sustain you regardless of your outward circumstances.
ne of the biggest robbers of peace is the sense that our gifts are being underutilized, that we could accomplish so much more for God’s kingdom if only we were unhindered by the life circumstances that have entrapped us. When we think of service to other people, we tend to imagine a far away group of less fortunate folks who need our comfort and contributions. Even within our churches, the type of service most emphasized usually has to do with missions because the Great Commission does carry with it a responsibility to show Christ’s love to the nations. We are to use our hands and hearts to accomplish God’s will on earth.
However, there is another kind of ministry that is less likely to be accorded recognition as service, and that is the taxing work we perform on behalf of our own families. Our loved ones pull not only on our purse strings, but our heartstrings; they tax not only our physical strength, but our emotional and spiritual health as well. The heartache involved in staying engaged with the needs of a suffering loved one can be unbearable; it is instinctive to turn away from the pain. And yet the Lord sometimes places before us precious relatives whose needs cannot be ignored, and as their caregivers we may feel trapped by the very life circumstances God has provided.
The types of service required by needy loved ones are many and varied, and are not confined to handicaps or disease. The mother who lays awake nights praying for her children is just as vulnerable to the despair of caregiving as the person who cares for a parent who suffers dementia. It is not usually the physical labor of service that causes our knees to buckle, but the heartbreaking agony we feel as we are forced to watch the struggles of those we love. How to find solace for the heartache of spending ourselves on behalf of our beloved burdens? How to have peace in the midst of feeling entrapped by circumstances we did not choose?
We must remember that it is God who chooses our field of service, and that the Bible reminds us not to turn away from our own flesh and blood.[ii] We are to work for God’s approval and not that of human beings, who may admonish us to abandon the needs of only one hurting person in favor of more impressive forms of service.[iii] We forget that we serve a good shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep in the fold in order to search for the one that was lost; human beings tend to judge by the size of the work, but God has intense love and passionate interest in even one child whose heart is aching. When we find ourselves assigned to only one or just a few of those needy children, we will probably not receive recognition in the eyes of the world. We must remember that in God’s eyes, the work He has given us—no matter the size—is of inestimable value.
If you are weary from the weight of responsibilities for those God has placed in your care, please remember that this time of your life is temporary, and that God is your deliverer. The enemy’s lying whispers tend to focus upon some minor feature from the middle of the story; in a recipe for chocolate cake Satan would have you think about the unpleasant taste of baking soda rather than the appeal of the finished product in which only the leavening’s effect and not its flavor are evident. God delivers His children out of trouble, and He will deliver you and your loved ones from the pain they now suffer. More than that, He will prosper and bless them because of the difficult situations they endure, and you with them as the pain of the trial recedes in memory, and the blessings of its honing influence remains.
Discontent and worriment over circumstances we can’t control can lead to a desire for the escapism of overeating. It is good to remind ourselves of how faithful God has been to us in the past. He has never let us down and is with us through each new challenge. We can rest in the certainty of His provision and presence regardless of our circumstances.
Pray: Lord, please forgive me for the irritability that stems from the false belief that I could be doing bigger or better things than the work You have assigned me. Please grant me Your grace to pray for the ones You’ve entrusted to my care, to respond in love when they are unloving, and to minister to their needs as You have ministered to mine. I trust You for the end of my story, Lord, and I give You the glory right here where You have placed me. Amen.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58