A Troubled Place

A Troubled Place

I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. (Psalm 142:1-2)

Read: 2 Kings 6:1 – 7:20, Acts 15:36 – 16:15, Psalm 142:1-7, Proverbs 17:24-25

Relate: I heard from another pastor recently about a time when he was preaching about being a witness in your workplace. He began to feel a nudging from the Holy Spirit at one point and so he stopped. He told his congregation that he felt God was telling him that someone there did not like their job and were planning on quitting. The felt that God was telling him they cannot quit because they were the only Christian in that place and God wanted to remain there and be a light in the darkness.

After the service a lady came up to this pastor and told him that the message had been for her. She said, “You just don’t understand. I hate that place. I really do. I just want out so bad.” So this pastor talked with her for a bit, they prayed together, and then they went their seperate ways.

The next week, before service even started, this lady sought him out. “Pastor, pastor, this is your chance.” She said. She pointed out a man sitting next to her husband in their pew. “That’s John. He’s the worst sinner in the bunch. If you can get him saved this week then there will be someone else and I can finally quit that place.”

React: I love where God has placed me. I love the city and the neighborhood, I love the culture, I love the language I am learning. I love the other international students and workers that I am getting to know. I love the environment so much more than other places I have been. Before coming here, I loved Binghamton. Still do. I love the church I was a part of. I loved the community there. I loved both weeks of sunshine that Binghamton gets. Before that I loved (and still love) the church and people in Oswego even though I absolutely hate the nine months of winter that dump on that poor town. Before that… well…

There have been other times and places that have not been so pleasant. No offense, but I absolutely hated my six months in Texas a good dozen years back. I never did like the ministry I was a part of, I didn’t care much for the community I was around in Tomball, I enjoyed skipping winter, but Texan culture is just not me. Neither did I much enjoy Long Island. The best thing about my time there was the proximity to NYC and some family I had living there. Unlike my time in TX, I didn’t even bother waiting for God to release me. Instead I went and got myself fired. Dumbest thing I ever did.

God doesn’t always place us in the best of situations. Sometimes, like that lady above, we might completely hate where God has placed us. Even as we pray for God to give us a love for it, we must also pray for endurance. Sometimes, He has us there for a reason and we have no right leaving. Titus wasn’t a big fan of Crete, yet that was where he was called to minister. After heaven, being an itinerant homeless rabbi in the backwoods of Palestine probably wasn’t the ideal career move for Jesus either, but He was obedient to the Father even so and I am so glad He was. No matter where we are, and no matter what we are going through, we have one who sympathizes with our weaknesses. No matter what circumstances might throw at us, we have someone who hears and is willing to listen. Let us pour our troubles at His feet. Even if He tells us to stay, He will stay with us.

Respond: 

God, I am so grateful that You have given me a love to match the calling for where You have led me. But even if everything goes south, still I will be obedient to You. I know that no matter what might be going on in my life, You are there. You hear. You know. God, I pray for those who might be reading this who You might have called into a hard or a hostile environment. Be with them. Help them understand that Your calling for us to be light sometimes leads into the darkest of places. Give them grace to continue. Give them confidence to come to You with their tears and complaints knowing that You are there. You hear. You know. You care.

 

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14 thoughts on “A Troubled Place

  1. I so enjoyed this, both its candor and challenge while being spliced with humour. The way in which it’s written makes it so easily relatable while not offensive in a pukish church B.S. kind of way.

    Great job!

  2. Saint Mother Teresa served the poorest of the poor in the most poverty stricken area of the world. She stuggled constantly against the effects upon her of such depressing surroundings and degredation. Yet she overcame it all because she saw Christ in all those suffering that she administered to.

    When all seems to much to bear, and that which we do has apparently lost its purpose, re-instill value by offering it up for the glory of God. For no task is unworthy in His eyes.
    -Alan

  3. Thank you BJ,
    Your words reach me too. Circumstances force me to return to a job which took more time and energy from our family than we wished to give. It is a challenge to find a smile and to believe that the Lord would place us in a situation so tough. But how are we to know just how God is working in our lives? How are we to know that the person He is working on is not me?
    Could the Lord be drawing me closer to Him through asking us to walk through trying times? Is He willing to suffer along with us as He places us in these difficult situations? Can He see the good it will work as we turn further and fuller to Him just to fulfill His wishes? Can anything be so bad if it is strengthening our walk and our relationship to Him? Or do we prefer to look only at our own comfort? Would we lose a special moment to see His power and His love, by focussing upon ourselves instead of stepping forward in faith?
    Lead on dear Lord! Give us Your hand and let us hold on tight! We may need it if we want to see Your mighty arm at work!

    • These are some great and very real questions.

      When I began to realize the direction I would be going with this, I almost stopped and started looking for something else. As I said, I love where I am at right now and since it concerns a global move, I didn’t want people back home to get the impression otherwise. The thing is, I wish I had read something like this back in some of my more trying times. Perhaps I wouldn’t have made some of the stupid, boneheaded mistakes my frustration and despair led me to. If I have been there, and probably will be again in the future, then there were probably people who might be reading that are there now. I am just glad for the opportunity to be an encouragement.

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  5. These days, I’d been struggling since the time God reveal me to witness in the place I hate to go, to minister to my old friends and relatives and the place I hated…it seemed I’m about to be like Jonas…then I remember when I committed myself to Him, I remember saying, “Not my will but your will be done Lord.” It must be because I was reluctant to go there because I’m seeing with my physical eyes so that I didn’t see the great multitude armies of the Lord. Only then if we open our eyes as prophet Elisha had so he’s not afraid to say, “Greater is He that is in us than them that are in the world.” because he’d seen the chariots and warriors of God around them with his spiritual eyes. …2 Kings 19:12 “Lord…for we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon on you.”

  6. Well said. I think it’s human to place our jobs on some kind of pedestal, because we live in a culture where people seem to be defined by “what they do.” I know it’s oftentimes the first question I’m asked when greeted by a stranger. They ask “what do you do?” but, from my perspective anyway, what they really seem to be trying to ascertain by that question is “who are you?” Lately, I’ve taken the comedy approach by answering things like, “nothing” or pointing to my husband and saying, “I wash this guy’s dirty socks.” Still, in spite of my attempt at humor, the question always makes me cringe. After college, I spent a lot of time being despondent over the fact that I had no occupational niche, and sadly, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really started asking, “what does God want me to do?” I know if I have the answer to that question and start acting upon it, I’ll never cringe again—no matter what it is.

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