Toil and Trouble Everywhere

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from many years of doing ministry around the world it’s that God does not remove the obstacles in front of us just because we’re doing something that he wants us to do. He helps us endure them or he helps us overcome them, but he doesn’t remove them. I remember once we got arrested in China with about 30 other people. That was quite an adventure. When I went to Nicaragua, I got interrogated for three hours before they let me in. When we went to Cuba, we had all of our supplies stolen from us upon entry.

One time I was traveling by train and I had a stomach bug and diarrhea. You do not want to have diarrhea on a train in China with only a squatty potty available. These are not things that you want to have to go through. I remember one time my wife got locked in an airport overseas. That was an interesting day. And I remember another time that we arrived very late at night and we were so tired and weary but the apartment that we were staying in had no heat and it was about 40 degrees. We went to bed that night dressed like we were ready to go skiing down a mountain. I could go on and on.

There’s just all kinds of funny circumstances now, not funny at the time that you go through them, but I am reminded that this is the way it seems to go in all kinds of ministry. God calls us to endure all kinds of strange things, even when we’re doing His bidding, we’re doing His will, we’re in the right place at the right time, and still, life is full of toil and trouble. The Apostle Paul reminds us of his own experiences in a wonderful passage from 2 Corinthians. Again, if you’ve ever tried to serve the Lord in any good way, and you’ve seen how many troubles that you have to still go through, you’re going to enjoy a passage like this.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” What a great encouragement to us that in spite of the mission and the goodness of the work, God has chosen to let us continue to do this in our own weakness as human beings. We are in cultures that are corrupt, and against demonic forces with all the other normal things of life that are constantly cropping up like stresses in marriage, children that become rebellious and cause all kinds of grief, elder parents that require a lot of time and attention, and then our own system.

I remember this one great quote from C. S. Lewis when he began to look at himself before the Lord. He writes, “I found what appalled me, a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, and a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was Legion.” All of these things drive home the fact that we carry out the most glorious work of the gospel. We are jars of clay with cracks where the light can shine through and God doesn’t really remove the cracks.

Whatever it is that God’s called you to do, you’re going to have to make peace with the cracks in your life and keep on going. I encourage you to do that with all of your efforts with Passion Life as well to know that every time you give a gift or you pray for Passion Life, you are supporting and praying for people who are well aware of their own weaknesses but are ready to overcome every obstacle or become long suffering with the things that can’t be removed in order to carry out this mission of bringing the gospel of life to the places of greatest need.
This is another reason why I really encourage you to sign up for our email updates and our text updates because then you’re going to hear the stories, the crazy things that happen, the unexpected things that happens, the hardships that come away, some of the pushback and the things that fail as much as the victories. These are the stories that really help the light shine through the cracks in our broken jars of clay. Sign up soon and continue to watch and follow with us.