This post has been adapted from an article by Yaasha Moriah that first appeared in the newsletter Incorruptible Beauty. Click here to learn more.
“I had my abortion yesterday.”
Hearing these words over the phone from a woman I had counseled just a week earlier, I felt as if my body had deflated. I had seen the statistics, I had done the research, I had personally heard the stories straight from the lips of post-abortive women. I knew what this woman’s future could look like. And for her child…there was no future. I immediately wondered: What could I have done to spare both mother and child from the painful consequences of abortion?
Somehow when I had become a counselor at the local crisis pregnancy center, I had never thought much about this aspect of ministry. In order to offer hope and healing, I had to be ready to bear another woman’s burden and to pray for her as earnestly as I would pray for a dear friend.
The Work No One Wants to Do
This is the side of ministry that few people talk about. Sure, you might hear about missionaries facing cannibalistic natives, or foreign diseases, or the hardship of living a third-world lifestyle, but we internalize so little of that reality. Their reality is our adventure.
Often when we serve others, we get some kind of immediate benefit from it: “I feel good when I serve.” I believe that emotional reward is good, but what about those times when service is not emotionally fulfilling?
God doesn’t always call us to sanitary, fulfilling, satisfying, life-changing ministry. Sometimes the work that is most important is the work that nobody wants to do. Sometimes it’s the work that’s dirty, unfulfilling, or downright humiliating. Sometimes you don’t get any recognition or satisfaction out the work. You don’t even get that warm feeling of “doing something good for other people.”
The Communion of Pain
We long for the faith and communion with God demonstrate by people like Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Job, Abraham, Elijah, and others. Yet there is a side of these stories that few people acknowledge.
Moses dealt with whiny Israelites and, at one point, even his own siblings turned against him. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit of slime, imprisoned, mocked, hated, misunderstood, and contradicted constantly. Isaiah was commanded to walk naked for three years as a prophetic sign of God’s judgment. Job lost his possessions, his loved ones, and his health, all in one day. Abraham left his relatives and journeyed alone into a strange land, based on nothing but a promise from God. Elijah was pursued by assassins sent from the wicked Israelite queen Jezebel.
These servants of God knew the meaning of loss, pain, hardship, and persecution. They faced these evils not in spite of their faithfulness to the Lord, but because of it.
Sharing the Cross
In our society, we proudly wear ornamented and jeweled crosses as necklaces. But to Jesus, the cross was not beautiful; it stood for pain, death, and humiliation. In the same way, we may try to make our service seem heroic, but in the end, it may cost us some of what it cost Him.
If we want to be like Jesus, we have to accept the whole package. People tend to remember that Jesus served others by healing and encouraging them. But the biggest service Jesus ever did was to take the sin that separated us from our Father and to destroy it by His death. In the same way, we must serve the Lord by being ready to sacrifice whatever our service may cost.
Don’t think that you are exempt because you are not on the mission field, or because you are young, or because you are insignificant. A heart that is completely surrendered to Christ is a heart that is ready to do anything for the sake of His love. The prophets, the early Christians, and our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe are not some special breed of Christian; they are the type of Christian we should be, willing to do anything God wants us to do.
We cannot put limits on our service to God. “Yes, but only if it’s clean. Yes, but only if it’s convenient. Yes, but only if it makes me feel good. Yes, but only if I can see some kind of positive result. Yes, but only if people understand me.”
The Blessing of the Cost
Perhaps by now you feel that you must expect drudgery and misery as a result of your service to the Lord. I even heard of one man who believed that he must avoid service that fulfilled him, and only do what he hated. Nothing could be further from the truth! A life dedicated to the Lord has access to a “peace that passes understanding” and a joy that is not dependent on circumstances. There are some services which God has made to bless and fulfill you. There are others He has prepared to teach and strengthen you.
I cannot claim to be a model servant of the Lord, but I can tell you that He changes you when you are willing to lay it all on the line. I feel love and compassion for people that I used to dislike. I have seen real-life miracles. I can deal with intensely negative circumstances with serenity and trust. This is not me; this is Christ at work in me.
When you give Christ your life, He gives it back to you. Moses performed miracles of the Lord in Egypt and had the privilege of viewing the Promised Land. Jeremiah was protected by God through miraculous circumstances. Isaiah was given powerful visions of some of God’s greatest mysteries. Job was given twice as much as he had ever had before. Abraham received a promise that God would do His most incredible work through Abraham’s descendants. Elijah was brought up to Heaven in a chariot of fire, never having died. When you feel overwhelmed by the hardship of their lives, consider the incredible privileges that God gave to them because they were willing to serve without reservation!
When you serve wholeheartedly, in every circumstance, He shows you beauty and joy that you could never have imagined. Jesus was right when He said that when you lose your life for His sake, you will find it!
2 Corinthians 1:5
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.