Lessons Learned from the Best Worst Summer
It all happened so fast…
Washer overflowed and flooded 70% of our home.
Youngest son jumped out of a window of a church camp bus engulfed with flames on the side of a highway.
Air Conditioner broke from the dry-out of our house flood.
Family vacation (the “best” part of the Best Worst Summer).
Emergency room visit for stitches.
Unwelcomed shark encounter.
Teenage attitudes. (Need I say more on that one?)
And the worst…four funerals of dearly loved friends and family.
While our personal life felt like a roller-coaster ride with harrowing twists and turns, the ministry was facing significant challenges of its own with unexplainable software migration issues and more.
We felt beaten up on all sides from life’s crazy ride. Someone humorously said to me, “Susan, instead of saying ‘Jesus is enough,’ you should say, ‘Jesus that’s enough!’”
Yet, something stirred inside.
Yes, Jesus is enough, but it’s time to cry out to God for relief.
Thoughts came to mind of Elijah petitioning God while weary from drought and cultural defiance; Esther fasting and praying while facing pending genocide; Paul praying in a boat while lost at sea in a storm. Our problems were not as grave as those biblical examples, but they were used by God to remind me of His faithful deliverance through the ages.
My problem was thinking all these problems were preventing me from carrying out the ministry God had given us. A LifeGroup member gently reminded me how dealing with the problem is the ministry.
Ouch! Yes, he was right!
I needed to stop waiting for things to settle down. I needed to take action. Here are four steps I took that changed our summer and some lessons learned as a result.
- Cry out to God. The psalmist declared, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6, NIV). David said, “O Lord, I am calling to you. Please hurry! Listen when I cry to you for help” (Psalm 141:1, NLT). Even our Savior Jesus cried out to God the Father from Gethsemane. God can handle our anger, our weariness and our tears. Rely on Him to help.Paul writes, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, NLT).
I needed to cry out to God for relief and rest knowing He will take care of us. I saw Him work in each situation. He gave me words to say in hard situations and showed us where to go or who to ask for help (Matthew 10:16-23).
- Stand firm in faith. God alone sees the big picture. As the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus knows what is best to transform us into His likeness (Hebrews 12:1-3, Romans 8:28-29). He can redeem a situation or rescue us from it. We must “stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NIV). We invite God to take over, abide in Him, and watch Him work (John 15).“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV).
I needed to remember God’s faithfulness in my life and in His Word. (Yes, specific personal examples of His deliverance came to mind.) I needed to stand firm knowing – after we have suffered a little while – He will restore and strengthen. I must abide and stand firm in faith.
- Receive and share God’s comfort. Where? How? We can receive comfort as we read God’s living word. Read the Psalms and let them minister to you. Discover in those pages how God is close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). God also works through believers (the Body of Christ- 1 Cor 12:12-27) to offer tangible support. Yet, we must be vulnerable to let believers into our life.God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5, NLT).
After leaning on God’s word and sharing our experiences with my LifeGroup, I received encouragement, practical advice, and prayer. We were able to comfort each other with the comfort we received. When we did, our own comfort multiplied.
- Take each day (or each moment) at a time. Jesus said, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Right before giving us this instruction, He gave us the key: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33-34).Life is not balanced. We need to manage our priorities and seek God’s Kingdom first, like Jesus. When we do, our perspectives change. We begin to see a greater purpose in trials and it produces in us perseverance for each day or each moment.
“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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt” (James 1:2-6a, NIV).
Yes, I needed to seek Him first and His way of life (righteousness). I needed to manage my priorities and not get consumed by life’s problems. When I did, God provided all I needed. I could persevere knowing a greater work was being done for His glory.
The Best Worst Summer is now over, but my problems are not gone. We’re still working through the flood issues; treating wounds with antibiotic ointment; and facing new challenges with the ministry. Yet, Jesus truly is enough. I’m seeing Him work though all the issues for His glory alone.
Remembering that “dealing with the problem is the ministry,” I share these lessons learned with the hope that you can take a step or two to keep running your race for God’s Glory alone. (Hebrews 12:1-3).
He is worth it all and you are not alone.
P.S. Do you know someone who could benefit from these life lessons? If so, we’d love for you to pass this along. We’re changed to bring change.