October 21
God's Ministry Of Darkness
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh
What is the point of troubled times in our lives? What is God trying to do? What is He trying to teach us? Peter wrote, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation" (1 Peter 4:12, 13).
In God's ministry of testing, we learn a lot about ourselves. Whatever is left of simplistic advice such as "Read your Bible" or "Just work harder" or "Pray more" gets stripped away. Most people going through testing times would love to resolve the crisis, but they seemingly can't and don't know why.
In God's ministry of darkness we learn compassion. We learn to wait patiently with people. We learn to respond to the emotional needs of people who have lost hope. We weep with those who weep. We don't try to teach or instruct or advise. If God took away every external blessing and reduced our assets to nothing more than meaningful relationships, would that be enough to sustain us? Yes, I believe it would.
Perhaps God brings us to the end of our resources so we can discover the vastness of His. We don't hear many sermons about brokenness in our churches these days, yet in all four Gospels Jesus taught us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him. I don't know any painless way to die to ourselves, but I do know that it's necessary and that it's the best possible thing that could ever happen to us.
"No pain, no gain," says the body builder. Isn't that true in the spiritual realm as well (Hebrews 12:11)? Proven character comes from persevering through the tribulations of life (Romans 5:3-5). Every great period of personal growth in my life and ministry has been preceded by a major time of testing.
Prayer: Lord, I submit to Your testing so I may come to the end of my resources and joyfully discover Yours.

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