Press On

Image for Press On

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

The verse in James can sound great in a sermon or a theoretical debate, but it can be downright frustrating to hear while going through a difficult time as it endorses a very unnatural reaction in the face of hardship. It is true that in this world, it is absurd to find joy and hope in affliction, but we are not of this world (John 17:14), and God surely wants us to change our perspective when faced with trials.

How many of you consider it pure joy when faced with trials? A few years ago, I would have said an astounding “Not me!” but God has taught me some lessons in the meantime, and I want to share with you the journey of my transformation.

Staying at home has not been much of a reality for our family over the past few years. Speaking appointments, teaching at mission schools and participating in various church events keep us on the move. And I came to realize that whenever something important is about to happen, Satan wants to ruin it, and trials pour our way. Every time I get ready for a speaking appointment, something goes wrong. Every time I am on my way to an event, there are unexpected setbacks: illness, a flooded room in the house, a broken car, or a delayed or canceled flight. The list goes on. However, after these experiences and more, I came to see that encountering them means something great will happen soon . . . as long as I press on.

I can look back and point to the GYC (Generation. Youth. Christ.) convention to which I traveled with chills and a fever and could barely stand. I thank God for healing me before I presented my workshop. Ever since, I have praised Him because He did not let me give up. That weekend began the journey for Kerigma David, a VMC (Volunteer Missionary Candidate) who, we have faith, will serve as a career missionary in Japan. She is currently fundraising, and we look forward to introducing her to you soon.
I remember driving over 27 hours to Finland for a congress because our flight was canceled just before our scheduled departure. There God blessed us by connecting us with many people with a heart for missions. And at another event, I started my sermon with little to no voice. Yet God faithfully showed me His power, allowing me to speak out loud without even clearing my throat.

And I don’t have to look that far back. Last week, while getting ready for an event in Germany, I started feeling sick the day before leaving. This has become a recurring experience I don’t enjoy much, so I quickly became slightly discouraged. The next thing I knew, a migraine hit me while packing. On the morning of our departure, the car battery died, and we had to replace it, causing us to be a few hours late even before getting on the road. By evening, the halfway point to our destination, my voice resembled the noises of a goat in distress. Roadblocks and traffic jams dominated the second part of the trip, delaying us a further three hours or more. By then I was certain we needed to be present at the congress. Satan would not have spent so much energy trying to keep us away unless he knew doing so would be a hindrance to God’s work.

Nothing spectacular happened in the first two days, save for my time in bed with pain. Then, we chatted with a young woman about going as a missionary. She was reluctant to make a decision, and we encouraged her to pray and seek God’s guidance in a very sincere and personal way as He promised to make our paths straight. Fast forward a day, and she returned to our booth. Her face changed, and her lack of commitment was gone. She had a story to tell about how God responded to her in a very clear way, showing her through His word that she should go and serve the unreached.

“I came to your workshop at GYC last year, and I was at AFCOE when AFM presented mission opportunities. In the beginning, I thought this was not for me. Yet I kept on thinking about it, still not convinced that God wanted me to go. As of today, I am ready to start the application process. I am sure that this is what God asks of me,” she said without a hint of uncertainty in her voice.

I briefly shared how we knew that God would work amazingly that weekend and that we wondered who we were supposed to meet since Satan had been so determined to stop us. After our conversation, we all knew that the trials we experienced were worth it, ending with a victory and one more person committed to serving those who are yet to hear the good news. I prayed with her, and we departed knowing God is good and faithful. We had a renewed sense of trust in His plan even when things go wrong.

Traveling home, I was encouraged. God’s peace endured even when we discovered that our water heater leaked and flooded our laundry room, soaking the boxes stored there.
I could have stayed home. I am always tempted to. But one look at the past is enough to know that I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to miss out on the blessing that comes afterward. I want to press on through the trial so I can enjoy the ending that God has in store. And I believe that James didn’t ask us to be excited about being sick, delayed or harassed, but hopeful and joyful regarding the result of being steadfast. Our faith will be strengthened, we will become more persevering and through it all, God’s plan will prevail.

So, the next time you face a trial, be assured that God is still in control. Press on, and He will work through that obstacle and turn it into a blessing for you and those who need Him around you.