Recently a friend going through a tough time asked me for a copy of the following that I wrote quite a number of years ago. The title makes it self-explanatory. Perhaps a thought or two may be helpful to you.
Learning Obedience through Suffering
_What the Lord Taught a Pastor as the Congregation He Served _Struggled through Division that Threatened Its Existence
- If my perfect Lord learned obedience through suffering, so must all who follow Him.
- Nothing helps like dry and thirsty times to bring out the sweet taste of the Psalms.
- The best prayers are often offered with a libation of tears.
- God provides an oasis in our deserts. They are called friends.
- If God destroyed a whole generation for grumbling and complaining before they entered the land of promise, what will He do to those who grumble who are in Christ and His church?
- In backyard basketball, we say, “No blood – no foul.” In other words, quit complaining about every infraction and just keep playing. That makes for a loose but good paraphrase of Hebrews 12:4-5, “If you have not started bleeding yet, then your trial isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Accept the discipline of the Lord and press on.”
- Often silence is the answer.
- As Spurgeon said, those who slander your name would really have something to talk about if only they knew the truth about you. When others speak ill of you, be glad they do not see you as God does. Then take refuge in Christ your Advocate.
- Your foe is probably not as wicked as you make him out to be. Neither are you as righteous as you think you are.
- Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” is not only pithy, it is Biblical. The Lord’s bondservant must learn to avoid entangling arguments while he trusts in Biblical discipline to run its course.
- As a shepherd, be tenacious in protecting the flock from those who sow stumbling blocks and dissension. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing you’re supposed to be watching out for.
- Keep written records and have witnesses to all interactions with parties under church discipline.
- The Proverbs state, “Drive out a mocker and out goes strife; quarrels and insults have ended.” The peace in our congregation following our struggles demonstrates the truthfulness of this statement.
- While struggling, find joy in serving others. There is always someone more miserable than you are.
- Often the fastest way to church growth is through subtraction, not addition.
- “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Take your frustrations out on pursuing the offenders, not your kids.
- “An excellent wife, who can find?” By God’s grace, I have.
- It is pride - not godliness - that refuses to ask for help.
- Finally, thanks be to the good Lord that I am a Presbyterian. I have a place to go when I need help.