Have you ever found yourself discouraged in a God called ministry? I mean down and depressed because you have lost heart even though you are convinced that God has placed you in that ministry for such a time. God has opened doors and maybe even granted blessings and success. But discouragement still has set in because of pettiness of people, the lack of concern and commitment from others, or the feeling that you are the only one who truly cares about that ministry. You have a full life to juggle outside this ministry including family. The pressure of doing things well as unto the Lord takes it toll. Ever been there, youth worker, children’s ministry teacher, elder, deacon, fellowship or maintenance director? If you have been involved in Gospel ministry for any period of time the answer is a loud and hardy YES!
It’s great to know that even the Apostle Paul grew weary and discouraged even when God Himself opened doors to ministry. 2 Cor 2:12-17 tells of this time in Paul’s ministry. Paul had lost heart to preach even though God had opened doors and blessed his ministry. A short blog doesn’t allow me to go into detail of all the issues which had Paul down but suffice to say that a loved church falling into apostasy, false accusations against him personally, a sickness near unto death, a dear friend that is missing in action and a riot which has threatened his life and ministry was more than enough for Paul to lose heart.
But as we study these short 5 verses, we see Paul finding encouragement in the very ministry that caused his discouragement. He begins to think of all he had to be thankful for. ‘But thanks be to God‘…. what a place for us to begin our rode back to encouragement. Regardless of any results that we experience or the lack of such, Paul tells us to be thankful that God is leading us in a triumphal procession as fitting of a conquering hero of Roman times. God is leading us as triumphant troops of Christ’s army who is the conquering commander, as we cry behind him in procession, “Triumph, Triumph, Triumph”. Thanks be to God that we in ministry do not have to win all the skirmishes and struggles. Christ has assured the victory and we march as victorious.
It’s interesting too that the successful results of our ministry are not counted as we might think. It’s not how many conversions, baptisms, church members or attenders that Paul gives thanks for. Success to Paul was that the Gospel message clearly pronounced was it’s own success whether people respond as he wanted or not. The message rises to the throne of Heaven as a sweet aroma to God Himself. People are converted and that glorifies God. Others hear the same Gospel message and yet reject it and are condemned to Hell. Either way God is glorified by the message presented. God is glorified in His grace and in His judgement. We are privileged to be the messenger of the Gospel message that always result in His glory.
Paul was thankful that he had been chosen to be the messenger of the Good News. When we are discouraged we have to stop and ask ourselves, why was I chosen to fight this battle for God, why me to wear his armor, why me to march in this triumphal procession? I have no answer but thankful I become.
Secondly, according to Paul we need to be thankful that the clear truth of the Word of God declared without adulteration brings Him glory. We do not water down the Gospel to make it palatable for people. The responsibility of preaching and teaching truth is our duty and privilege, the results of that teaching are God’s.
Discouraged in truth ministry? Find encouragement in the very ministry that has caused the discouragement.
soli deo gloria