When I was sent to relaunch a church in a community that needed Jesus, I loaded up my family and moved across the country with high hopes. We settled into our new home, and I eagerly threw myself into fulfilling the mandate I was given, sure that God would bless my efforts. I knew God had sent me, and that everything would go as planned and succeed.
Instead of the growth I expected, however, I found myself in the middle of conflict and opposition. Things weren’t working as I had planned. Like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, I found myself in the middle of storms. God had called me, I had been sent to my city, and I was living out the Great Commission. But instead of a great harvest of souls, I was experiencing conflicts and disappointments on every side. That was not what I had signed up for!
As I cried out to the Lord, I began to understand that God’s ways are not my ways. My way was to have no problems and conflicts so that God could be glorified through my success. His way was for me to live out my faith amid struggles, conflicts and failures.
God had, indeed, sent me to shine in my community; I was to be a witness to people who were in the middle of storms, trouble and pain of their own. I was to demonstrate how God’s grace could sustain me in my struggles, even when I couldn’t solve every problem or didn’t see success in all I did. I was to be a lighthouse in the storm, giving hope and direction to those lost at sea. A lighthouse is for the dark times, for the storms, not for when the sun is shining and things are going well.
I have seen success and fruitfulness, made disciples, and sent out missionaries and church planters. But I now understand that my greatest witness is how I handle problems and conflicts that come while I live out the Great Commission. It is not what I do but how I do it that shines the brightest light.
Paul put it this way to the Colossians: “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for His body, the church” (Col. 1:24, NLT). I don’t understand all about suffering, but I do know that how I shine in my suffering is a key to my witness. If you are caught in the storm, don’t give up. Put your trust in the One who sent you, and let your light shine brightly. The world is watching.
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