There are times in our lives where God will break our hearts over something that will ultimately bring us great joy, fulfillment and purpose. With that said, in many circumstances, we must embrace temporary broken-heartedness in order to see its fruitfulness.
When I first was brought on staff in the church that I serve, I was originally planning to fill the office of a pastor who would launch a campus into another part of town. But, as God would have it, I was given the opportunity to temporarily preach for an existing campus launch in an area 40 miles away.
At the time, all I knew is that I wanted to preach. It was my calling, and I was glad to oblige. This place reminded me of my hometown where I grew up, and I would preach there for nearly 6 months before I would experience a world of change.
I began to have a broken heart for the people I preached to
This was tumultuous, to say the least. I didn’t know any of these people previous to my preaching there; but I found myself thinking of them often. I began to be genuinely concerned for their spiritual welfare and their growth. It was much like Jesus when He was concerned for the people who were like sheep who had no shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
This sense became so overwhelming and compelling that, through prayer, my wife and I agreed that it’s time to move. I was a part-time, not seminary trained, new to the ministry and now looking to leave a thriving city for a city that was in decline; all this at a break-neck pace, or so it seemed.
This had to be God’s doing.
I shared my desire with my senior pastor, informing him that no matter what, I’m called to Newport. Understandably skeptical and surprised, his desire was to test me and ensure that I wasn’t chasing opportunity, so he began to prod me with tough questions about financial stability and the suddenness of the situation. And with tears streaming down my cheeks, the words that sealed it for both of us was:
“I cannot shepherd those people from 40 miles away.”
So what did I learn from this?
Be Surrendered Daily
God has called us to be constantly at work. We may have big, overarching, goals that are years away from completion that we are working toward. These goals may be great goals, but may not be God’s ultimate plan. You and I must first understand that He is calling us to daily surrender to what His desires are in the day that we are in.
Trust me, I was excited to fill in a pastoral role that did not involve my passion (preaching), simply because it allowed me to pursue my bigger goal. But God was pulling me in to thrust me to a place I didn’t even have on my radar.
Paul and the others with him experienced this often, and we shouldn’t expect any less if we are truly on mission. (Acts 16; 1 Thessalonians 2)
Make it your daily prayer to be surrendered to His will in the current day.
Be Aware Of God’s Work
Henry Blackaby is mostly known among his readers for saying “join God wherever He is working.” This principle has helped church shoppers, church hoppers, and church floppers discover selflessness in pursuit of glorifying God.
This is where our spiritual disciplines come in handy, leading us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ. To be actively looking where He is working.
For me, God was working in a place I didn’t expect through a people I didn’t expect. I thought it was an opportunity to serve and never realized that it would be a long-term commitment.
When He breaks your heart for what is good and right, expect joy because you’re joining God in His work on the earth.
Be Faithful In Your Current Circumstances
This is a key point, because we are ambitious Americans who can be so easily convinced that we deserve something better when we are in something not-so-desirable. The “greener-grass” syndrome can be a compelling act that can create a sinful, prideful, distrust of God and disgust of life.
Before I was called to the ministry and on staff at the church, I held more than 10 different jobs over a 6 year span. That’s how restless I was. I felt unfulfilled and hopeless with each one that I had, but it was all being used to bring me to a place of humility before God and then a readiness to embrace what He would call me to.
If you’re working a job that brings you no fulfillment, purpose, joy; then ask God to help you see opportunities for the Gospel, opportunities to join Him at work, or even the strength to be faithful right now. If you are in a marriage that is in shambles and crumbling, then ask yourself: “am I surrendered to God’s Word regarding marriage?” Or “am I aware and actively looking for what He’s doing in us and through us?” And of course, “am I prepared to be faithful through this entire process; to see that God is glorified no matter the results?”
These are just some areas that you need to be prepared for when joy may be on the brink, but pain and brokenness are all that you know, right now.
God is in every intricate detail of your current moments conforming you to the image of His Son.