- Lorie Hedgepeth
As wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling as it is, the pathway of ministry is not without hardship. In the course of following God’s call on our life, we will walk through difficult times and deal with difficult people. It is imperative that we not allow ourselves to become embittered by people, problems or problem people. It is impossible for bitterness and love to permanently coexist in the hearts of those who walk in the Spirit.
Paul experienced physically, what servant leaders in the church can experience emotionally: “having stoned Paul…”. Those who opposed the gospel that Paul preached, picked up stones and threw them at him until he fell to the ground. Cuts, and bruises will heal. But in the words of Proverbs: “…a wounded spirit who can bear?” The same stripes of Jesus that heal sick bodies will heal a wounded spirit. In Christ we not only find forgiveness, but we find grace to forgive those who have hurt us. Don’t live offended at others….it’s toxic and over time it will make you bitter. Ever been around bitter people? They tend to process what others do and say through their wounded spirit. Healing comes in our heart when we forgive those who have wounded us.
Consider with me for a moment v. 20: “Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up…..”. Paul rose up---that means he was down. Have people, problems and predicaments brought you down? Notice what that verse says next: “he rose up”…. Nobody picked Paul up… he rose up! You may be down today, but you don’t have to stay down…..get up! Sometimes we need to declare and decree: “I choose to get up”. I am not waiting on somebody to pick me up, cheer me up or pray me through…. I choose to rise up!
Satan intends to use what got us down to take us out. Regardless of what brought us down, God’s plan is to get us up. Circumstances and situations may take us down….. but, in God… we can get up! Conflict and confusion may discourage us but in God, it can’t defeat us!
Irrespective of what you think, see, sense or feel, regardless of how dark or dismal it looks around you…. in faith, embrace the promise of God: “Greater is He that is in you than he that (and anything that) is in the world”. Don’t say you can’t when God says you can:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”