You likely came into 2020 with big plans. You had dreams of doing great ministry that had nothing to do with a global pandemic. Then March came, and all your plans had to change.
I know many church leaders who have seen God work in ways they never expected. I also know many church leaders who are discouraged as we pass the year’s halfway mark. For them, it seems as if nothing has gone right.
For those of you discouraged today, please don’t give up.
Why? God’s greatest work in your ministry may be just around the corner. The greatest shortages of ministry are often followed by fullness.
Remember the story of Exodus 15? After Moses had led the Israelites through the Red Sea and out of Egyptian bondage, the people began complaining about their lack of good drinking water after just three days.
You wouldn’t blame Moses if he’d decided to quit at that point. You’ve probably been in his shoes. It doesn’t take long for people you lead to begin complaining—even if you’re coming off exciting movements of God. It’s frustrating and defeating when any leader experiences this.
God provided for the Israelites’ needs by creating drinkable water as Moses threw a piece of wood into the nearby water.
But that’s not all. God was about to do even more than just meet the Israelites’ needs. The Bible says next, “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water” (Exodus 15:27 NIV).
God’s People Moved from Disappointment to Delight
This beautiful oasis was just around the corner from where they were complaining. God took them from a period of intense need for water into a beautiful paradise full of drinkable water. It was a place of great refreshment right in the middle of a desert experience.
Like those Israelites thousands of years ago, we often give up way too soon. Sports fans know the game is often won in the final seconds. Pastor, the same is true for you. Your goal is nearby. Don’t give up.
But how do you get from disappointment to delight? You only get there if you keep going. Keep trusting God.
Occasionally, I’ll hear someone say, “I don’t feel like praying or trusting God. I don’t feel like doing ministry anymore. I don’t even want to worship. What should I do?”
You keep on praying, trusting, and ministering. You don’t give up—or you’ll die in the desert.
Imagine a person calling their boss and saying, “I’m not coming in today. My heart just isn’t in it. I knew you wouldn’t want me to be a hypocrite. I’m just going to stay home.”
The boss wouldn’t care whether the person’s heart was “in it” or not. Only immature people live by their feelings. Mature people live by their commitments. Mature Christians don’t serve in ministry because it feels good. They serve because God has called them to it and it’s the right thing to do.
God Can Use Our Discouragement for Good
Plus, we can remain confident that God has a greater plan for the pain we’re experiencing. Romans 8:28 says, “Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to His plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good” (PHILLIPS). The Bible doesn’t say everything is good. Not everything that happens to us in ministry is good.
But everything fits into a pattern for good. When you’re discouraged and being criticized, God can use it for good. God’s plan is bigger.
The last chapter of your ministry won’t be written when you die. As you disciple and invest in the lives of the people you serve, the effects of your ministry will be felt hundreds of years later.
Some of the most criticized people in church history—such as John Wesley, D. L. Moody, John Calvin, Charles Finney, Martin Luther, and many others—endured those criticisms for years.
Yet through their ministries, God is still producing good all these years later.
So keep going. I know these are tough times for many, but don’t give up. Your oasis may be just around the corner.
Your best days are ahead of you.