I see faithful Christians who have labored tirelessly in doing works of service for the church. What have they got for their service? A 2×4 whacked across their spiritual backs. Faithful people who long to experience the power of God in their own lives.
Our little congregation is under siege. Key families face family issues, debilitating illnesses, and injuries from car accidents. My husband, the pastor of the church, is struggling with an impinged nerve and bulging disc in his lower back and may be facing back surgery. In addition to that:
- Our temporary Children’s Director is flat in bed with a serious back issue and severe pain.
- An elder’s wife is fighting a life-threatening auto-immune disease that is robbing her body of red blood cells.
- Our custodian is fighting a serious, energy depleting auto-immune disease that, left untreated, could also become life threatening.
That’s not all of it. Several other families are struggling with extraordinary challenges. My heart breaks with the serious health, family, and financial issues I see. It’s not just a round of influenza or cancer diagnoses – we’ve got people battling illnesses no one has ever heard of before.
We’re a small but active congregation.
- Half of all funds go toward the support of missions.
- We have a growing number of street kids coming to our two children’s programs.
- Our active outreach committee plans awesome events like movie nights, taco suppers, car shows, and Easter egg hunts at the nursing home.
- Our women’s fellowship group supports a University campus group and a foreign mission with practical gifts of cookies and handmade fabric items.
We so want to have an ambitious youth program this summer, yet we just don’t have the workers to do what we want to do or what we see needs to be done.
It feels like Satan is picking us off, one by one.
It’s easy to ask, how can our little congregation survive if we’re not reaching, teaching, and discipling. Lord God, we WANT to reach our world for You, but we’re just too weak in physical strength and too few in number. We desperately need each worker. We can’t afford to lose one person.
I trust in the power of God. I’ve seen His power in my life. I’m the woman who God miraculously healed by giving me better eyesight than I’ve ever had before. God did it for me; He can do it for you, I want to shout to my hurting church family.
God remains silent. And another person feels the blast of Satan’s dart gun. What’s going on, Lord?
God’s Spirit reminded me of the story of Daniel’s three friends.
The king of Babylon built a huge statue and ordered everyone to bend the knee to this monstrosity. The three men refused. The king threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace.
That makes me shudder. Death by fire, in my opinion, would be the worst kind of death. I wonder if I would cave.
Daniel’s friends didn’t. They calmly told the king that they were confident God had the power to rescue them from the fiery furnace.
Hooray! You tell them, boys! Right. God has the power to do anything! He can rescue us from anything.
Can doesn’t mean He will.
God never promised instant healing and prevention of any danger. It’s the next sentence that grabs me.
“But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18
Even if He does not! If God chooses not to heal our diseases and resolve our conflicts and difficulties this side of Heaven right now when we ask Him to, are we still willing to trust Him?
Five times in the Bible, we’re given the command to be faithful to go all the way through to our death. I love the way the New International Version coins the command in Luke 21:19:
And Jesus promises the churches in Revelation 2:10:
That promise is aimed at a church, the collective group of people in the city of Smyrna. As far as I know, the original church does not exist at Smyrna any longer. Jesus’ message could have been aimed at individuals or at the church at large: Stay faithful, even when facing death.
So, what’s the message to us? To you?
God calls us, no, He commands us to be faithful. Faithful to the end. If we do nothing else but keep our faith in Him and His Son intact, we’re doing what we are supposed to be doing. That’s the mission for our little congregation – to stay faithfully committed to the God we serve. To not give up, cave or throw our hands up in defeat.
Yes, we may not be able to do all the programs we want to do. We may not do them with the vigor we once had. But we keep doing the best we can with what we have. If we can’t serve our Savior in one way, we find another. Our congregation may dwindle through no fault of its own but we keep fighting the good fight, giving it all that we DO have.
I see our church members doing just that.
- My precious friend with the blood disorder briefly tells me how she is feeling then reassures me she is praying for my husband and me.
- Our children’s director with the bad back, comes faithfully every Sunday and Wednesday to teach the children, spending hours in preparation and clean-up. Did I mention she is also seventy years old? She didn’t stop until the doctor put her on total bed rest.
- My husband told me privately his pain level was at a 9 out of 10 Sunday morning. Yet he preached a powerful sermon on the four levels of discipleship.
- New people are stepping out of their comfort zone to feed the hungry street kids each Sunday morning. I heard different voices from downstairs teaching the children. Others are filling in the ranks.
These people aren’t at their best. They can’t do all that they normally do. Yet, by their efforts, they model that their faith in God’s ability to care for them is intact. They will not cave. They will not give up.
I think it’s because they buy into God’s promise that He will not abandon them. He is with them to give them daily strength for the journey.
Jesus made that final promise to his disciples right before He left this earth.
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).”
End of the age doesn’t mean the end of my life. It means up until the time Christ returns to claim His own. The time when things on earth get worse before they get better. A lot worse.
Jesus is with us. He’s walking that journey with us. Even when times are at their worst, we can remain faithful to Him because we have confidence that He knows, He cares, and He will conduct us through the turmoil to safe harbors.
If you feel like you are being undercut, don’t give up.
Stay faithful. Stand firm. You will win life!
What did I see today? I saw faithful people.