When was the last time your heart felt robbed of joy because of the strains and struggles of ministry? (Don’t feel bad. My moment was about 20 minutes ago.) And yet we are called to be a people marked by joy. Why? Because our joy is in the Lord, not in the things of this world.
Psalm 95:1 says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” What is the foundation of our joy? Our salvation!
Psalm 118:15 says, “Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’” Where does our joy come from? The awesome works of the Lord!
Isaiah 52:9 says, “Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.” What does the Lord provide for us in our suffering? Comfort that results in joy!
1 Thessalonians 1:6 says, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” Who is the constant source of joy for believers? The Holy Spirit!
Replanting a church has many struggles … and many, many joys. The problem is, it’s easy to focus on the struggles. In our sinful nature, we can wallow in the difficulties or be prone to gossip about those ridiculous people and personalities (as if we’re not one of them!).
Here’s how our awesome God works: When we submit our hearts and minds to the Lord, He changes us. He allows us to see past the suffering, the challenges, and the daily minutia that would otherwise steal our joy. So, as we allow God into those parts of our heart and mind that are prone to miss the joy, by His grace, He helps us see all the reasons we have for joy in him:
- Our salvation
- His awesome works
- His comfort
- The Holy Spirit
And there is no lack of ways to find this joy amid the struggles of replanting. When you are dealing with a husband who is gone late nights or long hours, you can find joy knowing that God is doing a great work through the both of you. When you miss the family and friends you’ve left to be in this church, you can find joy in the comfort only God can bring. When you are frustrated with the lack of volunteers and feel like you are the one filling all the gaps, you can remember the joy that you are saved by God and loved by Him deeply. When your family is being slandered because of the way you are leading this church, you can trust the Holy Spirit to be your joy and your guide.
This may on the surface feel too simple … or too hard. I know. But it really is that simple and that hard. Replanting is complicated and uniquely challenging, but God is the only place we can look for true, complete, and lasting joy for the work He has called us to do.
Published February 6, 2018