Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth,
and hath long patience for it, until he receive
the early and latter rain. – James 5:7
If you have ever worked in a ministry before, you know that there are seasons of struggle and seasons of abundant fruits. Naturally, the seasons of abundant fruit are fulfilling and exciting. The seasons of struggle, however, are a true test of faith.
I think of my own church right now and some of the ministries that we have. Our bus ministry tends to have waves quite often. Not that long ago, two of our buses were staying at an average of 15-30 riders a week each, and our van was fluctuating weekly between four and nine (15 passenger van). Overall, it was steady and a blessing. Lately, one bus has nose-dived to an average of seven to thirteen riders; the other bus is inconsistent with six one week, twenty the next, and seven the next. The van still fluctuates the same.
During the low seasons, it is hard not to wonder whether the problem is something we are/aren’t doing, or whether it is a test of faith. I do believe that sometimes, God does allow things like this to ensure that we are serious and faithful about the ministry regardless what comes our way. It is a battle, however, to keep the devil’s taunting away.
We have seen this happen in our RU program as well. Many regular students have vanished from our midst, which naturally presents a concern. Again, it is hard not to question what could be causing this decline, but we need to stay faithful that God has a plan. It is never unwise to evaluate and examine self to insure that there is nothing causing a hindrance, but one must be cautious of giving the devil an inch in planting a seed of doubt. If he does, he will take a mile and reap havoc.
What does one do when these periods of dryness hit? Three essential things are needed: prayer, a still and patient heart – open to God’s leading, and a humble servant’s heart. Without these three things, the ministry will not recover from its dry spell.
One of my favorite movies is Facing the Giants, and in that movie, there is a gentleman that comes into the building and prays for revival. He walks up and down the hallways and touches each locker. He does this for many years, and after patiently obeying the Lord in doing this regularly, a revival is finally seen.
In the movie, he also says something that struck me. He said you have two farmers. They had not seen rain in a long time, and they were enduring a terrible draught. One farmer prepared the field as if the rain may be coming any moment. The other one did not because he was discouraged and figured why bother. He asked the other person who they thought reaped the blessings when the rain came.
What struck me was the idea that sometimes a ministry may see a real dry spell. It would be easy to throw in the towel and claim defeat. However, we must keep pushing forward and preparing the fields because one day, the rain WILL come! If we are not prepared, the rains will not bless but cause chaos.
Another example to look at is a woman I knew when I lived in Chicago. She had a local television show that reviewed restaurants. She did a review on a Chinese restaurant in the area, and immediately after it aired, the restaurant saw more business than the owners ever imagined would take place. They did not truly expect that anything would happen and were not prepared. They buckled under the chaos.
It is really important that we stay faithful and trust that the rains will be coming. It is really important to trust that the Lord has a magnificent plan in store.
A favorite verse comes to mind right now: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) We don’t understand what God is doing because our minds are too small and full of sin to comprehend it. We need to rely on our faith in Jesus to know what He is doing!
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24