He Sees What We Don’t: A Lesson in Trust

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a person in ministry who hasn’t asked this question: Why did God bring me here? Sometimes it’s asked the moment a person gets off the plane! I remember being hit by West African heat and humidity on a stopover in Senegal on my way to Ivory Coast, and thinking it, but that would hardly be the only time it crossed my mind.

Why do we question God?

One moment we’re so sure of our call and direction in service and the next, we’re lost in doubt and despair. What happens in between? Life happens for one thing. It’s not easy pulling up roots and moving to a new city or country. We lose our bearings in moving, and it can take a while to readjust, depending on culture, language, and accessibility to others. When we struggle to just do the regular things of life that used to be second nature, we question our ability to do what we were called to do. “If I can’t shop for myself, how am I going to ever share my faith in this place?”

Another thing that happens is we find ourselves not able to fit in as quickly and as easily as we’d anticipated. People are naturally suspicious of strangers. Even at my library job, when I welcomed a woman who had recently moved to our town, she told me, “You’re the first person to actually welcome me. Most people have not been as kind.” If we’re not welcomed by the people we’ve been called to serve, how are we going to find ways to witness?

We can question God when we find that what worked at home doesn’t work here. Maybe you were able to easily share your faith or disciple new believers on your home turf, but now, it’s not going so well. No one seems to be responding. Discouragement and doubt can quickly settle in.

Looking inward instead of upward.

All of the above reasons are really a result of focusing on self and our abilities instead of on God and his ability to work through clay vessels. The reason God puts us anywhere in this world at one time or another is the same—to be his ambassadors, salt and light, disciple-makers, who do the next good thing he’s prepared in advance for us to do, drawing others to Christ.

The mistakes we make or fruit we don’t see today do nothing to undermine the sovereignty of God in our lives and in the lives of the people we serve. Our job is to press on and remain faithful. God brings the fruit in his timing. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t.

Struggles are opportunities to trust.

When I’ve gone through hard times in ministry, I’ve learned I have to make a conscious decision: Will I choose to trust God for the outcome? Often, others are watching us through those difficult days. What does our attitude convey to a language tutor who is an unbeliever? How will a neighbor judge us based on our words about the weather or food? Will I remain in the background, faithfully serving alongside my husband, when all it seems I do is make tea and coffee?

God is asking us to trust him because he’s worthy of that trust. He does not call us by mistake. Replacing you with a more proficient linguist is not the answer to the problem. He knows what he’s doing.

God takes the long view of things.

I didn’t always see it in the early days of my career, but now, after over thirty years of ministry, I have seen how God used even me in ministering to others. National believers, now over twenty years in the faith, will speak encouragement into my life. Just seeing them faithful after all this time is reward enough for me.

You may not see it yet. Thank him over and over when you do, but if you are struggling still, look up and be patient. You are just one step in the spiritual journey of that neighbor, student, or stranger. Do your part in the moments you have, and rest in knowing God will do the rest.

Grace and Peace

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