IN SEASON AND OUT - Week of April 24th
By Judy NicholsApril 24, 2016
IN SEASON AND OUT
This has been a rough season of life. Both my husband and I have ongoing health issues, our children and grandchildren have had one illness after another all winter, and we even had a beloved pet become ill and die. It’s way too easy to become inwardly focused in times like this.
Twice this week the Lord has brought me up short as I was wallowing in my self-pity. In the shower one morning, the question He brought to mind was, "Would you rather have died twenty years ago when you had cancer?" No, no, a thousand times no! Whatever I have faced or will yet face in this life pales in comparison to the joys of seeing my children grow up, mature in Christ, marry wonderful spouses, and beget our beautiful and lively grandchildren. Not to mention the many other evidences of His great love and faithfulness to us over the years.
And in church last Sunday the leader said he sensed there were people in the congregation who needed prayer. I certainly thought I qualified! He told us to ask the Lord if there was someone we should go pray for, and then go pray for them during the next song. Sitting there in my mire, I was hoping someone would come and pray for me. Suddenly I was reminded that that was not what was asked of us; we were to ask if we should pray for someone else. Reluctantly, I asked God if there was someone I should go pray for. Almost immediately a name came to mind, much as I would rather it had not. Again, reluctantly, I took my tear-stained face a few rows back and joined another lady already in prayer for the woman whose name I received.
Paul admonished Timothy to "be ready in season and out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2). God’s call to minister is not just for when we are healthy, enjoying success in all our endeavors, or are feeling particularly anointed or compassionate.
Indeed, Paul himself had ongoing health issues (mentioned in Galatians 4:13-15 and again in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8) and he advised Timothy to take some wine for his stomach and his frequent ailments (1 Tim. 5:23). Suffering adversity does not exempt us from being obedient when God calls. In fact, it could reasonably be asserted that adversity prepares us to be of greater use in God’s kingdom. Old Testament history is riddled with people who were only called and used after suffering greatly. Think of Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery; Jacob, the schemer who had to flee from his brother and then his father-in-law; and Moses, the fugitive murderer, to name just a few.
God’s response to Paul’s request to remove his thorn in the flesh was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). Did that make it any easier for Paul to minister or preach or travel around or write letters from a prison? I doubt it. Depending on God’s grace means knowing you can’t do it on your own, but doing it anyway whether you feel well or not, are successful or not, or have compassion and anointing or not. In season or out of season, we are to be obedient to God’s call, counting on His grace to do what He wants to do through us and in us.
© Judy Nichols 2016