Inadequacy, Part 2
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses.
2 Corinthians 6:3-4
I love the message of Paul’s words in this passage. He pounds nails in the heretical teaching that if only we have enough faith we can avoid troubles, hardships and distresses. Ha! Paul “commends” his life journey to others in part because of the troubles, hardships and distresses.
Every circumstance in our lives is a gift we can offer back to the Lord for Him to use as a means to help turn hearts toward Jesus. It seems this is what Paul is saying in this passage. Though troubles came, he endured, trusting that the Lord would one day redeem the pain and also work through the circumstances in a way that brought good to him and his partners in ministry that loved Jesus. I often think that Paul is referencing holy troubles, you know, the persecution he experienced. Yet Paul declares he is the greatest of sinners. I conclude that hardships and distresses could easily include all the temptations and sinful actions of my own life. Intentionally doing life with other women encourages me to revel in the love and forgiveness of the Source of Life, Jesus.
Hanging out with other mothers whose children were older than mine helped shape my views of discipline. I discovered jewels of wisdom while working in the church kitchen preparing for potlucks as older women shared bits of their personal lives. I’ll always remember the kindergarten teacher who reassured me that my five year old wouldn’t always be as difficult as that day. With the words, “This, too, shall pass” she mentored me. I took a deep breath, hugged my little child, and thanked the Lord for those hopeful words.
Paul owns the hard places and sees them as a pathway for offering hope to others.
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Start your quiet time by praising God for the richness of your inheritance as a child of the King. Read 2 Corinthians 6:-3-4. Are you reluctant to allow another woman into your life because of your own hardships and stresses? Sometimes the best gift we can give is to let another observe us as we struggle through the hard times. What was Paul’s motive in living out his faith? What is yours?
Review the story in yesterday’s devotional. Blessings came because this woman obeyed the call to spiritual mothering. She experiences joy as she watches the Lord use her own failures to encourage young moms to think through their own parenting decisions. Ask the Lord to bring a woman into your life who needs encouragement in her daily life, or if you’re struggling, ask the Lord to bring a woman into your life who can offer you the help and hope of knowing Jesus.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the Dying with Grace and Dignity audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
The doctor said soberly, “We are not winning this battle..."
The cancer has spread to your spinal fluid and to the soft tissue surrounding your spinal cord. There is nothing more we can do for you.” The cancer in my soft tissue that causes such unbearable pain in my ribs and back is now causing me to lose function in my lower extremities. I have lost my ability to stand and walk. The cancer in my spinal fluid affects my facial nerves, making it difficult to eat and to speak.
We have known since my diagnosis eleven months ago that the aggressive multiple myeloma cancer invading my body is painful and deadly. Only God’s miraculous intervention could heal me. My greatest pain is not in my body, but in my heart. I leave behind my wife and four children. What about them, God? I love them so much. For more than twenty-five years we have been blessed beyond measure. And yet, even in His sovereign administration of this trial, God’s love for us has not changed. The Lord Who has given so faithfully now takes away in order that His perfect plan might be realized in and through my life. May the name of the Lord be praised.
There are times when reality overwhelms us. That’s when we hear God whisper “Be still and know that I am God.” Our God is sovereign and He can be trusted in all circumstances. He enables us to lean into this pain, and not run from it. Were you to find yourself facing imminent death, would your faith sustain and comfort you? True peace is rooted in one source only – faith in Jesus Christ. Though it may seem far off, I walk only a few steps ahead of you to an eternal destination. My prayer is that God would use the testimony of our
family to lead you to the fear-conquering joy of salvation through trusting in Jesus Christ. Confess and repent of your sins, call on the name of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Do it today, for you may not have tomorrow.
Roger entered into heaven two weeks after this interview.