Last month, I posted about Toppling the Pedestal. What about when there is no pedestal? What about the times when our critics are numerous and we feel like no matter what we do or say, it will be wrong? We’ve all been there at one time or another. These times can be especially painful for those of us who are in ministry.
We give so much of ourselves to others. We know we are not perfect, but sometimes the people that we serve expect us to be. We know that we didn’t do what we are accused of doing. We know we didn’t say what we are accused of saying. For those of us on foreign fields, we have literally “left all” to serve these people and at times the appreciation that we might long for just isn’t there.
What do you do during these times? In 1 Samuel 30 David faced this kind of a situation. We are told that David “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” There are several things we can do to encourage ourselves in the Lord during these times.
1. Get our eyes off of the offense, accusation or sacrifices we are making and get them back on the Lord. Last year, I was reminded by a retreat speaker that we serve an audience of One. God knows our heart. He knows what our motivations are. He knows what we did or what we said. He is acquainted with all our ways. (Psalm 139) In the grand scheme of things, this is what really matters.
2. This is the time to spend extra moments with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. Some of the most precious times I have had with the Lord have been during times of facing critics. I remember several years ago going through a particularly difficult time. The Lord gave me Psalm 31:19, 20. “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” I have clung to these verses so many times since then. When I am spending time in His presence, the harsh words, misunderstandings and false accusations seem to fade from view.
3. Guard against bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Bitterness can affect a whole family, ministry and beyond. One thing the Lord has been teaching me is that it can affect so many areas of my life and health. At the previous mentioned retreat, the speaker quoted someone that defined bitterness as “drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” That has stuck with me over the last several months. I pray regularly that the Lord will help me choose not to drink the poison!!
4. Remember the “Blessed.” I have been spending some time in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 recently. There is so much comfort, encouragement, and conviction there. I fall short in so many ways, but then I come to verses 11 and 12. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” I know that I can’t compare myself to the prophets of old. I haven’t endured anything even close to what many of them endured. I can’t help but wonder if some of the things spoken against me falsely as I am trying my best to serve falls into this category. If so, I am to rejoice and be exceeding glad because my reward is in heaven!! That’s definitely something to encourage any heart!!