We have all read stories about missionaries and other servants of God that have given up so much for God, even their lives. At times, I’m sure that we've all privately thanked God for not asking us to commit on that same level because we probably would have quit. I maintain that if you are a child of God, He will give us the grace to go through every situation that we are put in.
As a 21 year old, just having graduated from Bible school, I found myself greeted by fellow missionaries after getting off the plane in war-torn Central America. One of the first conversations I had with a now long-time friend and missionary was about my level of commitment to the Lord and to fulfilling God’s call on my life. He asked me the question “How committed are you to the will of God?” Without any thought, I quickly answered, “I am committed with my life or my death.”
Little did I know that that commitment would soon be tested and tested many times over the rest of my life. One week after my quick answer, I found myself sick almost to the point of death. We had traveled into the jungles and I contracted some sickness and become so ill and dehydrated over the following days. I could hold nothing down and spent several nights laying on the bathroom floor in anticipation of the next “attack”. After a few days of this, my “friend” visited us and walked into the bedroom where I was lying. I pictured him giving me the words of encouragement and healing prayers that would bring me out of my misery. Isn't that what good Christians do? Instead he looked down at me and said, “How’s that commitment now?” I was struck by the coldness and insensitivity and if I had had the strength, I think might have hit him. At that point, I was miserable and wanted to quit. But God, in His wonderful way, taught me a lesson that day that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I didn't quit.
God did heal me instantly the next day but little did I know that it would be the beginning of a lesson that I would need throughout life and ministry. When Jesus recruited His disciples, he didn't promise them that it would always be a life of luxury and ease. In contrast, He told them it would sometimes be a very difficult life if they decided to follow Him.
God is always good…but in life we will experience good and bad times. Through the years, I have seen friends killed in service to God, experienced persecution, battled through the loss of 2 children, faced death several times myself, felt under-appreciated in the midst of sacrifice…and on and on. But I know God and that He is always faithful and always has my back. He has NEVER let me down, even when He seems so far away and doesn't seem to be listening to me or empathizing with my problems.
When I am going through a difficult time, often I go back to that question as a young man – “How’s that commitment now?” – and I remind myself of the call and my commitment to that call. I think it is good for us to remind ourselves that part of the Christian life is not a promise for things to always be easy but Jesus did promise to be with us always (Matt. 28:18). The key is to stay content in God in every situation, good or bad, whether we like it or not, and He will bring us out. We are overcomers! We don’t always go through tough times, but when we do, be encouraged and stay committed to the end!