Have you ever felt like your life was a little like the Warner Brothers’ Roadrunner cartoon of the 60s and 70s? Unfortunately, your character is not the roadrunner, who miraculously escapes every peril. Instead, yours is that of the coyote. In every situation the coyote finds himself in, the mechanism from the Acme Company malfunctions, foiling his attempts to capture the roadrunner. What eventually results is the coyote being run over by a truck, smashed against a rock, thrown off a cliff, crushed by a falling boulder, or some other bizarre catastrophe. The coyote gets up, greatly altered by the catastrophe, then walks away and comes up with some other harebrained attempt to catch the roadrunner…only to realize the same outcome.
Of late, I have — along with my family — been subject to many difficult circumstances, none of which were of my choosing. At times it has been difficult. Interesting enough, pastors are real people, and we aren’t made of Kevlar or some other substance that protects us from feeling or hurting. Thankfully, the Lord has graciously promised never to leave or forsake us. We are never alone. God has carried us through so far, and we are confident He will continue.
What does this look like and what has helped? How is it that someone can move through difficult challenges of life and do well? These are just a few of the things that have helped:
- Praying and moving closer to the Lord
- Prayers of the Saints
- Reading God’s Word and yielding to the Holy Spirit
- Reading the writings of others who have gone through similar challenges
- Remembering God has chosen this assignment for us…with the purpose of honoring Him
- Remembering God is good…even when it doesn’t meet our definition of good
- Choosing to minister to others amid our challenges
- Choosing to be defined by our identity in Christ, not by our circumstances
- Encouragement from friends and family through notes, cards, texts, and calls
I’ll elucidate on a couple of these listed above.
Prayers of the Saints
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8–11
Does prayer matter? It did to Paul, so much so that in his affliction he specifically mentioned those who joined and helped them through prayer. Prayer takes us before the throne of God; the One who is able. God sustained Paul and God is sustaining us. Never underestimate going to the One who is able on behalf of someone else. Never underestimate going to the One who is able personally. Prayer is powerful and God does sustain!
Choosing to be Defined by Our Identity in Christ, Not by Our Circumstances
When we place our faith in Jesus Christ we are given a new, sure, and unchangeable identity. We are adopted by the God of the universe, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, and our future is secure. Our value and purpose flow from our identity. We are of great value, and we know this because Jesus gave His life for ours. Our purpose is to love, honor, and glorify God in all we do and say. We know that God is sovereign and we know He chose this assignment for us.
What is one of the current difficult circumstances in our lives? My wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer about two months ago. Honestly, we would not have chosen this assignment. Praise God, He will never leave us or forsake us.
Gary Webb is the Adult Ministries Pastor. He and his wife, Beth, were transferred down to Columbus from Toledo in 1988 while he worked for UPS. Gary worked as an engineer for over 12 years for UPS and Children’s Hospital. During those years the Webbs became involved at Grace. He joined the pastoral staff in 2000. Gary studied engineering (University of Toledo) and theology (Grace Seminary). Gary enjoys coaching, running, biking, swimming, and hiking. Gary and Beth have three adult children and three grandchildren.