Tempted to Give Up . . .

Lori 2016Building God’s kingdom on earth sounds like an amazing adventure.

And, it is.

It’s also heart-wrenching, back-breaking, soul-squeezing, mind-bending, endless, frustrating, gravel-chewing relentless work.

Ask anyone who does it.

The recruitment posters were glorious. Go on an adventure with God! Serve on the front lines with Jesus. This is your call to kingdom work for Christ. Find your vocation as a minister, missionary, speaker, communicator, teacher, Christian writer, business-owner, stay-at-home parent, leader, musician, artist, filmmaker, or motivator for God.

When you began, you caught the vision clearly. Your talents, spiritual gifts, and desires melded perfectly with God’s call, so you packed your dreams in His steamer trunk and boarded the train.

What you never saw coming were the hardships.

No, wait. You prepared for hardships and challenges. You knew there would be barriers.

But, you didn’t see the long stretches of fruitless, unappreciated labor. The extended periods of boredom. The criticism of the people you set out to serve. The betrayal of teammates. The cancer, the depression, the detour your child took into addiction, the temptation, or the repeated rejection. You believed God for the promise and the vision but now He’s taken you on a side-tour of an endless season of desert.

Words like success, fruitfulness, effective ministry, full-time work, bestseller, speaking tours, conversions, revival, answered prayer, or rewarding ministry seem to be gifts bestowed on others but withheld from you. Your words appear to be set-aside, passed over, ignored, rebuked, rejected, forgotten, languishing, or unfulfilled.

That’s when Satan whispers accusations against those you came to serve, your teammates, your soulmate, your children, you, even God in his attempt to sideline you forever, to discourage you, to force you into early spiritual retirement, to disarm you, and to disable the work on your section of the kingdom wall.

In that moment of temptation, in that hour when self-pity seems like the go-to option, in those days of nurturing a spirit of complaint or lament or grumbling about the challenges of your calling and the hardship of the work of building God’s kingdom in a hostile or indifferent world, in that very moment

Imagine you are a preacher locked in prison in China,

A Christian writer sentenced to hard labor in a camp in North Korea along with your parents and your children,

A musician who loves Jesus in Syria,

A teacher of God’s Word in Nigeria wondering where the kidnappers are holding your students,

An artist sold into marriage to a terrorist and forced to serve a religion that is an enemy to the Christ in your heart.

If you believe God loves these persecuted ones. If you believe God has a plan for their lives. If you believe they are not rejected by Him. If you believe He can still work inside a prison cell, a labor camp, a country under siege, a place of terror, or even within a terrorist camp

then apply that knowledge to your work right where you are.

There are gifted preachers locked away from their flocks, shepherding from their knees, battered beyond recognition, wondering if another human will ever hear their voice again, never mind if others will be moved by a sermon they preach.

There are talented, anointed writers whose fingers are swollen and cracked from endless hard labor at tasks that have no purpose other than to numb their spirits. Writers whose Christian message resulted in their internment and not theirs alone but also their elderly parents and their children who have little hope now of realizing their own possibilities this side of glory. Writers who whisper stories in the dark to encourage their loved ones or who scratch poems onto prison walls.

There are musicians who compose music no one will sing above a whisper and whose melodies will only be heard by the ever-listening ears of the Lord and the great cloud of witnesses.

There are teachers and mothers and fathers and filmmakers who neglect their gifts to devote hours to prayer and fasting for the return of their captive daughters. There are artists forbidden to practice their art and forced into serving a faith that is not their own.

Building God’s kingdom on earth is an amazing adventure but not like one imagined by Walt Disney. It is richer, deeper, more textured and layered than that. There is joy and success, yes, but there’s a war on during the construction so there is also hardship and unimaginable trial.

When you are tempted to despair, loved ones, pause and imagine your counterpart in a land of persecution. Before you pour out your own lament, petition heaven with his or hers. Ask Jesus to encourage the imprisoned pastor, the writer in the labor camp, the musician in hiding in Syria, the teacher pleading for her students’ release in Nigeria, the artist sold into marriage to a terrorist. Ask Jesus to whisper to them that He sees them, loves them, will never forget them, and that they will someday live free forever.

Then, pour out your heart about your own work for the kingdom but not with despair, not without hope, not with the intention to give up. No, embrace every hope and ask for strength to endure for the sake of those who are persecuted, for the sake of those who still live in darkness, and for the sake of Jesus’ name on earth.

Yes, building God’s kingdom is hard but the definition of hard for some is light-years from the call of hardship for others. God placed each one of us where we are so we bear no guilt for having freedom, but we do have a responsibility for appreciating it, reveling in it, exercising it, and interceding for those who serve the Lord in chains.

If you are burdened, discouraged or tempted to despair, use Lamentations 3 as your prayer for yourself and others and always know the LORD is our portion, our inheritance, our reward and there is no greater thing!

If you are discouraged in your work for the Lord and would like prayer, let me know by commenting her or messaging me HERE If I can encourage your ministry in person by speaking for doing a workshop/retreat, reach out to me HERE. The times are hard and we need one another to speak light, truth, and love into moments of despair. Encourage someone around you today and keep at the business of furthering God’s kingdom until He comes.


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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Heidi Chiavaroli says:

    Lori, seriously, did you write this especially for me today? Thank you so much for this blessing!

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Okay, lady, you done quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’ now. And you ruined my self-pity party.
    THANK YOU!!!!!

  3. Carla Allaire says:

    We erroneously believe that to be helpful to the Lord we have to have had a spotless past. Mine is not. I was TRYING to be a Christian, but I was the poster child for everything NOT to do. I tell people now ‘see my life? do exactly the opposite!’ HOWEVER, I have learned more through my heartache and sorrow than I EVER would have if I had been the model Christian. I know the sick feeling of praying day after day for a child who disowned us, of having teenage grandchildren I haven’t seen in 15 years. I know the frustration and sometimes anger of having a body wracked with pain and syndromes I’d never heard of. ‘WHY aren’t you healing me, Father?’ But if I hadn’t been FORCED to quit my good job, all our many activities, sports, etc, I would never have turned to finding Christian sites where experience equaled gotten wisdom. The mission field doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical place. I have forged sister relations with women all over the world through the Internet. I understand now why we have been through the fire, and I’m thankful. Without the trials, I would still be stuck in the past, half in and half out of God’s Kingdom. I wouldn’t know the joy (and sorrow) of furthering God’s work in encouragement, in teaching, in prayer, in growth.

    Think your past is too nasty for God to use? Boy, do I have good news for you! lol

    God bless, Lori