Historical Examples as Spurs to Perseverance

For me, there are times in ministry when I feel completely overwhelmed. The size, depth and number of the needs plus my own weakness and failures combine for a crushing despair. Many gospel  tools are needed for these situations, and one of these tools is the example of our forebears.

It is helpful for me to read John Knox writing to John Calvin:

“I am prevented from writing to you more amply by a fever which afflicts me, by the weight of labors which oppress me, and the cannon of the French which they have now brought over to crush us.”

One danger in times of difficulty is exaggerating our own challenges and throwing a pity party. It is helpful to be reminded what others have faced (and still do). Yes, our challenges are real, and we need not minimize them. We just ought not overrate them. So far, no foreign country has brought over artillery to bombard me. You may wonder if some deacons or particular members are searching for cheap canons on ebay, but I imagine you’re not being bombarded yet. The point here is not to shame us, but to remind us that we are a part of a long line of brothers and sisters who have labored for the faith and we are taking our place among them. This is ennobling, placing my struggles in the bigger picture of the outworking of God’s plan. (1 Pet 4:12)

It is, then, also helpful to me to read Knox concluding that same letter saying, “He whose cause we defend will come to the aid of his own.” The heroes of the faith persevered not by some unique ability available to them. They simply held fast to God in faith, just as we can. Their hope was the faithfulness of God. God has not changed. He is still faithful. You and I can trust him as well, hanging on, doggedly determined to be faithful to the task He has given us if it kills us- because God is faithful, his cause will not fail and we have the privilege of playing a part.

So, let us take our place in the line, knowing our labors are not in vain because our great and good God is working his purposes out and they will resound to our good and His glory (1 Cor 15:58; Rom 8:28).

(Quotes from Douglas Bond, The Mighty Weakness of John Knox, 81)

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