Updated: Apr 15, 2020
I was reading about a famous pastor in the United States – the late (1907-1994) Dr. Howard F. Sudgen. He pastored the same church, South Baptist Church in Lansing, MI for nearly forty years (1954-1991). In this article, he was asked “Have you ever been tempted to quit the ministry?” Listen to his answer, “Almost every Monday morning.”
I appreciate Dr. Sudgen's honesty and his integrity. Even the most spiritual amongst us have times where discouragement creeps in. In fact, it often takes place when we are experiencing what we feel are the most intimate times with Christ. All these great things are happening and then what I call a “gut punch” comes – something that knocks the “spiritual zeal” or “practical life” out of us for a second. Remember, Satan is very cleaver and smart with only one goal - to discourage us and get us off track. Remember my friends, he is “the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV) He is the King Pin of liars and he will, in very crafty ways, seek to discourage the Saints.
But here are some things to remember that can help us when we face problems and challenges.
(a) In preparation - Daily put on your armour (Galatians 6:10-18- NIV). Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
(b) Remember that Satan often attacks through our emotions. Emotions are great but they are not a reliable measuring stick of what is going on. As one wise person states, “When King David was discouraged, He found strength in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). He stopped looking outward and looked upward. He remembered who he was, but more importantly who God was. Never forget who you are in Him.”
(c) Remember you are probably further along than you think. Sometimes we fail to see where God has taken us and what He is doing through us. Another wise gentlemen has said, “We tend to overestimate the event and underestimate the process. Every fulfilled dream occurred because of dedication to the process.” God is often times doing much more than we perceive. Be patient – be prayerful – trust the Lord and don’t let Satan take your joy.
(d) Remember there are people around you that need you. Stop and think about that. Your impact is often much more than you perceive. Don’t get lost in the details and numbers, focus on being faithful. Remember Paul’s wise words, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
It’s Tuesday. We have just had a great weekend and look forward to a wonderful week. But for those challenging “Mondays” remember the above points. My friends, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). You are a tremendously useful vessel in God’s hands. Hang in, be encouraged and keep on plugging away through “thick and thin.” We will make it!
Keep up the good work and keep yourselves in the love of Jesus – Pastor Ralph