Missionaries probably experience the hardest hits in all the world’s professions. Opposition comes from within and without. It comes from misunderstandings and misjudgments and outright attacks. Some is brought on from our own failings, and some from ignorance, lack of faith, and just plain stubbornness. Sometimes, we aren’t willing to compromise. Sometimes we’re selfish. We get our eyes off of the Lord. Sometimes, evil attacks.
Missionaries get physically threatened and robbed. They even get death threats. (I don’t think these are uncommon, by the way.) Missionaries experience issues with host government paperwork. They stand in lines and wait . . . and wait. In some countries, officials want bribes in order to “expedite” permission.
The biggest heartaches come from ministry. Those are the hurts from unjust personal attacks and also seeing the natives turn from what is biblical and right and do their own thing. It’s watching them crash and burn—when it wasn’t necessary. It’s pouring our love into these people and caring for them, as if they were family . . . then seeing them reject godliness . . . and sometimes us, as well.
But, a missions ministry also holds the greatest joys. Nothing in the world is as beautiful as seeing a soul come to Christ. There is no joy greater than being privileged to lead someone to the Lord.
It’s satisfying to watch baby Christians follow the Lord in baptism and begin to grow. It’s a thrill to see faithfulness, a church plant, and spiritual growth. It’s exciting to see families acting according to the Word of God, and it’s also a privilege to give the Word to another human being.
Many of us get to speak at least one other language, live in a beautiful environment, and learn another culture. We get to see gorgeous architecture, appreciate native art and music, and travel to places other people only dream of.
We learn to love souls who are so different from us—yet so much like us. We see ourselves in a new way, and we understand more than ever how much we need the Lord every day.
We’ve become partners in God’s work. We’re ambassadors from our supporting churches to people they’ll never meet.
It’s a good life!
It’s the best life.
A missionary woman’s joy depends on two factors:
- Her relationship—intimacy and communion—with God
- Choosing joy
Here are some wonderful passages about how to conserve your joy, no matter what your circumstances:
- Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. . . . If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:4-5, 7-11).
- My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:2-5).
- Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. . . . Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. . . . But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:1, 4, 19-20).
Abide in Jesus.
Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour
is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).