The Ministry Implications of Suffering
Your greatest contribution might flow from your greatest weakness. If you find my writings useful, itís because I have felt useless. Itís the spear through my heart that binds me to the pain in yours. Itís years plagued with questions that have unearthed answers. Had something dulled my pain, you would not be reading this website.
Great men like Whitefield and the Wesleys suffered enormously in their struggle to find salvation. Whitefieldís spiritual need was so all-consuming that his fastings almost killed him. John and Charles were inconsolable until at long last they found salvation. Spurgeon suffered so greatly in his quest for salvation that he wrote, ĎI had rather pass through seven years of the most languishing sickness, than I would ever again pass through the terrible discovery of the evil of sin.í Not surprisingly, their subsequent ministries eclipsed that of almost all Christians who have been spared such anguish of soul.
John Bunyanís spiritual torment was horrific. With a severity that few of us could even conceive, year after year he was repeatedly overwhelmed by a consciousness of sin, hopelessness and the seemingly certain prospect of an eternity in Hell. Then followed long years of harsh imprisonment, intensified even when not in prison by the very real threat of execution or deportation. No wonder Pilgrimís Progress is such an outstandingly powerful book. Much of it was virtually autobiographical.
Mark Virklerís torment was his inability to hear Godís voice. In vain he sought the help of those who regularly heard from God. They could not even understand his problem. For them, itís as easy as prayer. Year after year, Mark wrestled in the agony of silence. Why would a Father who longs to communicate with his treasured children, allow him to suffer so cruelly? Because, unlike those for whom hearing comes easily, Mark now has answers which have swept thousands to Ďthe other side of silence.í
Traumas qualify us for ministry like nothing else can.
After losing his sight, Dr. William Moon prayed a prayer that was powerfully answered: ĎLord, help me use this talent of blindness in your service . . .í
Barbara Johnson has touched incalculable numbers of people for the glory of Christ, because of the numbing horror of being robbed of two sons through death, losing a third to a gay lifestyle, and her husband being critically injured.
Who would have heard of Corrie ten Boom or Richard Wurmbrand if they had not suffered in prison camps?
Rather than test your patience by citing hundreds more examples, let me conclude by stating the obvious: for vast numbers of Christians, the spiritual impact of their lives seems directly proportional to their past agony. Situations they would have most wanted to avoid Ė times when death seemed preferable Ė empowered their lives like no other experience.
Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 1985.
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