By Billy Walker
A few years ago, my wife and I took the girls to Fort Myers for a few days and made a purchase we didn’t think through at the time. We bought a body board down at the beach.
It was a great idea until someone asked how we were going to get it on the plane! We wound up leaving it at the Condo.
That is not the part of the story that’s important. Except for the people who were staying at the condo after us!
When I finally decided to try it out, I had been watching countless people out on the waves. Some on a surfboard, some windsurfing, some on body boards, and others just swimming. They were doing great; the waves just seemed to be moving them effortlessly along.
So I jumped on, only to be hit by a significant wave that caused me to lose the board, and be driven under.
As soon as I could get above the water and start to get my bearings, another wave came crashing over me. This happened time and again until I was finally deposited, a ragged mess, back in the shallows.
For some, that story is an accurate depiction of what life is like when discouragement and depression set in on us. And if we’re honest about it, pastors can quickly find themselves in the same condition.
While all the others (other churches, ministries, ministers) seem to float effortlessly, wave after wave comes crashing on you. You can barely keep your head above the waves to get your bearings only to be hit again.
God’s Word gives us some insight into people who experienced this and how God reacted to them.
Two of the greatest in the Old Testament would be David, who was victorious over Goliath and mighty King of Israel; and Elijah, the powerful prophet who called down fire and rain from heaven on the same day!
David says in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”
A crushed spirit.
That seems even worse than a broken heart. Broken hearts can be healed (come on, remember the love of your life in Jr. High? You got over it!). But a crushed spirit?
That brings to mind concrete that has been sledgehammered into bits and pieces.
You’re not sure you can recover. Too many sleepless Saturday nights, too many seemingly hopeless Monday mornings, and not enough powerful Sunday experiences to make up for either.
Have you been there, Pastor? What about your family? We all have to some extent, but David promises, from first-hand experience, that the Lord rescues those who find themselves in that struggle.
Elijah is a little more of a process than even David. He had experienced this incredible victory, and yet within 24 hours he was ready to call it quits……literally. But God GENTLY restores him!
God doesn’t scold him. He doesn’t tell him to put on his big boy pants. The Lord feeds him, lets him rest, prepares him for a journey, assures him of His presence, tells him he’s not alone, and then gives him an assignment, putting him back to work.
Wow! How incredibly cool is God?
And He speaks the same to you today.
You are not alone! You will get through this. There is more for you to do and accomplish!
Next week, we will look at some practical aspects of what we can do if we find yourself in a similar struggle as David and Elijah. In the meantime, there are some excellent resources that Lifeway and NAMB have given to us.
Resources for You
There is a Pastor’s Hotline: 1-844-Pastor1 (1-844-727-8671) The conversation stays confidential, and it gives you a safe, secure place to talk and share.
There is also a collaborative effort at www.care4pastors.com. Combining the resources of Lifeway, Focus on the Family, and Great Commandment ministries, this website gives you insight, sermons, a calendar of events for couples and other great tools to help you navigate the waves that ministry brings.
Take advantage of these, plus the encouragement that comes from other SBC and statewide gatherings, such as a Pastor’s Conference, Galatians 6 getaways, Timothy Barnabas Retreats and Lifeway Pastor & Wife Date nights.
All of these events have a purpose in moving you forward in your relationships, your ministry, and your personal life.
Next week, I will offer some hands-on tips from the life of these two Old Testament greats, Elijah and David. Until then, remember that the God who created the wave will give us the ability to ride the wave rather than be swept under by it.
And when we allow Him to do that, well, what a ride!
BILLY WALKER (@billyhwalker) is a 3rd generation pastor of Calvary Church in Southgate, Michigan. He is the vice president of the Billy Walker Evangelistic Association, and is the president of the Pastor’s Conference for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.