The Gospel For The Exhausted In Ministry

Recently, my 32 year old husband woke me up before the dawn one morning, informing me that he needed to go to the hospital. My solid and steady man was uncharacteristically shaky and unstable as he fought to express that he wasn’t well, and that he had endured almost 10 minutes of an episode with all the defining marks of a heart attack.

Still half asleep and confused, I threw back the covers and grabbed the baby monitor off my bedside as I helped him to the bathroom. Our one year old daughter was sound asleep in her room down the hall, fighting off the effects of a 17-day long fever that had been plaguing her little body.

When it rains…am I right?

Not only that, but I myself was fresh off a mental health break in the months prior, which had come on the heels of some major life change. Get this.

Within a period of about a year, I had:

– stepped down from an established and fruitful ministry position that I loved with my whole being

– birthed an absolute miracle baby girl (10 years into marriage) who doctors said could never biologically happen for us

– navigated the unexpected trenches of PPD

– found my new-mom-self suddenly alone and abruptly dropped into the 2020 COVID pandemic and quarantine season

And then, as the world began to re-seek “normalcy”, the Lord very clearly directed my husband and I to leave his amazing job in Virginia, uproot everything established and comfortable, and relocate to Florida.

Talk about a wild year.

So, that morning as I sat with my husband on the cold bathroom floor – watching him drip sweat, still too weak to stand – by every definition, for him and for me, it was too much. The accumulation of chaos, transition, surprise, shock, and unrest in our recent journey…it was beyond me.

However, on that humid, rainy, sticky, Florida-summer morning, even as my feet first hit the ground to the sound of my husbands plea…I stepped in to grace.

The spaces of my mind that, by default, tend to err on the side of fretting, were, mercifully and wholly consumed by the assurance of the sovereignty of God in a way that overruled my natural tendencies and with an authority that came from outside of myself. And, let me tell you, I’ve never in my life been more simultaneously aware of the weakness of my flesh and the strength of the Holy Spirit in me. And that gives me goosebumps in recalling, even now.

As I loaded my ailing husband in the car to head to the hospital, all I knew was the sufficiency of Christ in any and all portions. And in that, I was assured.

And it’s this breaking point of my weakness into Yahweh’s strength that has me now looking at the world around us and thinking:

…it’s too much.

…it’s beyond us.

I can’t say with certainty what the accumulation of trial in your own life and ministry has been as of late, but I can be fairly confident that it has involved some of the major players in our common cultural story lately:

COVID. Isolation. Change. Anxiety. Frustration. Division. Confusion. And a mourning for not only the brokenness of our own churches/cities/nation…but also a desperate ache in our bones over the conditions of the greater world.

…it’s too much.

…it’s beyond us.

…and thank goodness that it is.

Because any display of our limits isn’t a liability, it’s a gift.

My husband got home from the hospital that day and spent the next few weeks in testing and consult with a cardiologist over the “unspecified abnormalities” that seemingly had no explanation. And as we processed this cherry-on-top incident that had taken place to crown our year of wild turns, here is what the Holy Spirit graciously allowed us to be reminded of…

…a truth that we had, to some extent, overlooked.

It is this:

We are exhaustible, and He is not.

Hallelujah.

Rather than bask in that marvelous dichotomy though, we often respond to the signs of our limited human ability with one of two things:

We try harder
Or
We give up

We let apathy draw us into half-hearted ministry
Or
We allow pride to plunge us into full-hearted deceit of self-sufficiency

What is the middle ground?

Better question.

What is the HOLY ground?

Here comes our familiar friend, our gospel lens.

When Jesus took His place upon that cross, He did what no man in all of existence could possibly do. None of the prior typologies that foreshadowed Him could match the perfection of His submission. None of them could bear the weight of our sin, and neither can we.

…it’s too much.

…it’s beyond us.

And that’s the point. We are exhaustible, and He is not.

In any context, the beauty of our weaknesses being made evident is that we have all the more opportunity to celebrate that our humanity was accounted for, and Jesus already stood in the gap. We know our humanity and its limits – and we rejoice in our limitless and generous God for the sake of increasing thanksgiving to God.

And now, in the midst of hospital rooms and doctors offices…as we process the past and anticipate the future…as we take our daily steps of leading and of following…the claim of Paul is able to find assurance through the Holy Spirit in us.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭CSB‬‬


KristyF.pngKristy Fry is a veteran youth worker and a content creator for the G Shades Blog. Feel free to reach out to Kristy anytime at kfry19@icloud.com!

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at mike@gshades.org
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