For even the most serious of persons, avoiding the emotional rollercoaster after a door closes in ministry is a challenge. Closed doors can lead to doubt in God’s plan for your life or guilt for not being more active in witness when you had the chance. Both can send you into depression or despair.
Awareness of the power of emotions keeps us from growing bitter.
When a door slammed in our faces in Syria, I struggled with why God would allow this. Didn’t he know things were going great, people were coming to the Lord, the church was growing? The question ultimately came down to the sovereignty of God. Did I have faith he was ultimately in control of our life and this specific situation?
I learned to rest in God’s presence in the middle of what I considered a place of exile, and it wasn’t until after we left that place, that I was able to look back with a clearer idea of what he was doing in our lives and in those of the people we served.
If a closed door has threatened your faith in God, find ways to step back mentally and emotionally to see what good God may want to bring your way.
Moves don’t come in a vacuum. When a door closes, but you’re pregnant or have health issues, emotions plus exhaustion can aggravate your sense that this is not fair. Why would God put us through this now? Be aware that Satan will play on these feelings to his advantage. Anything that will lead you to doubt God’s love and sovereignty is a mark in his favor. Proactively seeking rest helps lower the effect emotions can play in unexpected moves.
Another way Satan likes to use our emotions is by using guilt to cause us to think too highly of ourselves, which again leads us to doubt God’s sovereignty in our lives. Wondering how a fledgling church or new believers will survive without you and letting the guilt of leaving overwhelm is just another way of saying you don’t trust this work in the hands of anyone but you. God usually has other ideas about the matter, so don’t go there.
When doors close quickly, move first, and analyze later.
Trusting in the sovereignty of God means we trust that he’s not taken by surprise when a coop forces all ex-pats out of a country, including you. We many times hinder those we leave behind and sometimes put them in danger by not getting out when we should. When reading through the book of Acts, nowhere do we see Paul or others stuck in analysis paralysis. They accepted whatever caused them to have to leave one place and move to another with complete trust and obedience.
Bitterness is an emotion none of us can afford to harbor.
When our door closes, the emotional Me wants to understand why it didn’t close for a colleague or others. Satan loves to lead us to compare in ministry. It happens on every level of service, but sometimes most severely when doors close. Don’t leave a country bitter or hurt. Find ways to talk out your feelings with your spouse or colleagues or a professional counselor. When I compare myself with others, I’m actually exhibiting jealousy, which has no place in service to God.
When we choose grace, bitterness dissipates, and God receives the glory.
Are closed doors opening pandora’s box of emotions in your life? Seek God’s help in knowing how to constructively face your feelings and shut the box on destructive emotions that can hinder you from moving forward by his…
Grace and Peace
For more about avoiding the “it’s not fair” trap, read When Doors Close: Changing Course in Missions Without Losing Your Way.