Ever been fired… let go… set aside… moved out of the way… benched… or demoted? If you have, you know what it feels like to wonder what is going on and why God would allow it. You also know how much it can hurt and cause you to doubt yourself. Those who’ve been there know what it feels like.
Ten years ago I went through the book Half Time by Bob Buford with some men from the church I served. The concept is taken from a football half time… the pause to rest, evaluate, modify a game plan, and then finish strong. Mr. Buford suggests this as something we should all do periodically.
Sometimes we purposefully take a “half time,” and sometimes we’re forced to sit on the bench for a while. At times it is chosen… other times it is imposed upon us. Either way, taking a break is good. Either way, it is under God’s control. Either way it is for our best.
While musing on this, I ran across a quote on Steve Camp’s blog…
“Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may be ground and sharpened; so does the only-wise Jehovah take His ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that He may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in His service.” -ROBERT MURRAY MCCHEYENE
That thought applies to every believer, not just ministers. It is somewhat similar to the call Jesus gave his followers as found in Mark 6:31 (NIV), “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”
Here is another thought that might apply from missionary Amy Carmichael. This has to do with the wounds sometimes received as a result of being put on the sideline… when set aside by God for a greater purpose later.
Jesus speaks to us:
Have you no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear you sung as mighty in the land.
I hear them hail your bright ascendant star.
Have you no scar?
Have you no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent, leaned me against the tree to die,
and rent — by ravenous beasts that encompassed me
Have you no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yes, as the master shall the servant be,
and pierced are the feet that follow Me,
but yours are whole.
Can he have followed far — who has no wound? No scar?
Can she have followed far — who has no wound? No scar?
As one who has experienced hardship, difficulty, and adversity unexpectedly… I can tell say without any hesitation at all… GOD IS GOOD. He never does leave or forsake us. He does cause all things to work together for our good. We can rejoice in the Lord always. We can count it all joy when we encounter various trials.
I can also tell you some more things… by personal experience. After each season of adversity I have found greater blessings than I could have experienced had I stayed where I was prior to the event. After each time of struggle, my faith has been strengthened. Every time I have suffered, God has shown me blind spots to get rid of to be more like Jesus.
Not only that, I have found joy in praying for those most people prefer to condemn. I have found peace in knowing that I am not in the place of God (I don’t sit on His throne). I have found contentment that I don’t have to “do” anything… God takes care of everything.
Last, I can affirm the sufficiency of Christ in all things, in all situations, at all times. I can say with conviction that God is good all the time. I am more at peace… more content… more secure… more blessed… more joyful… and more hopeful than ever before in my life. Consider…
Ps 119:67, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
Ps 119:71, It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
How can all these things be true? Because Christ Is Life. Nothing else matters. Regardless of what others say, think, or do… God is still able to use me for His glory. No matter what takes place, no one can mess up my life to the point God can’t use me for His glory. And THAT is a comforting thought!
If you are struggling because of an unexpected life transition, seek God and know the peace which surpasses all understanding! And know this… God loves you and will not abandon you!