Early this week I received an e-mail message from a dear brother and good friend in which he expressed something of a struggle he was facing in ministry. His heart cry was expressed in the words that he felt as though he was wandering in the shadow-lands. I prayed for him, did some eclectic reading in the devotional genre and then set my fingers to respond to him. I’ve excerpted part of my response and included it below.
Only a few scant hours after sending off my response, I found myself in a torturous test of my own ability to apply the very things that I encouraged upon my friend. I was compelled to re-read my own words and ask the question, “Do I really believe this? If it is good for my friend, is it also good for me?” I was immediately rebuked and humbled. With thanks to God, I can report that my situation rather easily resolved itself and I soon walked under a clearing sky again. I pray that my friend will find that sky again soon as well.
For the reader of these words, I offer my thoughts from early this week in case they might be of encouragement to you as well.
My Dear Brother,
Your message has made my heart ache this morning. But with further reflection I am thankful God has allowed you to experience this.
I was reading this morning some thoughts about how after coming to faith in Christ, our faith has to be worked out (as Peter says) in the actualities and realities of life. Some of those actualities and realities will take us into the shadow-lands in order that we might, perchance, know more fully the reach of God’s provision and blessing but even more likely that we might come to know that He is more than sufficient apart from such tangible aspects of that provision and blessing. Few of us are ever fully prepared for the shadow-lands as we might wish. We would never choose to go there. But that is precisely why God wisely and lovingly superintends our paths to bring us there. Unless we go there, our faith is likely to be upheld by good times and good feeling, watered by showers of blessings. Having been brought there, no matter where it is or what the struggles, we will learn that we can still praise God that all is well. Why? Because that is what it means to work out your faith in all circumstances … even in the shadow-lands.
My first matter of prayer for you is that you will see God in the shadow-lands; that even without the good times, good feeling, and showers of blessings you will be satisfied with just Him, Himself … for however long God purposes to be the sole encouragement you have.