A pastor in a war zone shovels coal throughout Saturday night at two locations; as he moves between them he sticks to the shadows because there is a curfew; if he is seen he will be arrested and sent to prison. He does this to prevent the pipes of his church and ministry bursting; he can’t connect to mains gas because his church is illegal. After a long hard night of physical labour he preaches and seeks to lift the souls of his few remaining members, the rest have either died or have fled. It’s desperately hard for this pastor and others in the area. However there is good coming out of their hardship, the fleeing of their congregations has led to the planting of churches in the places they have been scattered to and many have been saved as a result.
The pastor who told me this story said that sudden and unexpected things can happen in life but they are great opportunities for God to move. From listening to him I felt a burden to lift the pastors he told me about in prayer; to pray for perseverance, energy, courage and peace. I also felt very encouraged to hear of the amazing things happening out of a time of immense difficulty. The story wouldn’t be out of place Acts 8:1-8 where the believers are scattered from Jerusalem due to persecution and they take the gospel wherever they end up.
Now today you might not be living in a war zone as a Christian but you may be facing something tough in your life, perhaps long term illness or bereavement. Be encouraged, God is with you, as it says in Psalm 139:5: ‘You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.’ God can work through you and your situation to bring good (Romans 8:28). This doesn’t mean that it stops being hard, but as it says in John 16:33: ‘…in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’