Let me qualify this thought. I am not some emotional basket case. I am building up to a principle. What is the principle? It’s that life is a series of highs and lows. Sometimes you ride the waves (highs) and sometimes you sink into the valleys (lows).
The highs and lows are especially true when you serve in ministry. One day you may feel like you hit a home run with a sermon. The very next day you may feel like a novice. One day you may celebrate the spiritual new birth of a church attender. The very next day you are heartbroken because a church member dropped by the way side. One day you may be on cloud nine because the attendance was high. The next week you are depressed because the attendance was terrible.
The question becomes, how do I handle this emotional ebb and flow? Consider these suggestions.
- Enjoy the crest. When we find ourselves riding a wave that is a good time to make deposits into our spiritual and emotional reserves. We never know when a valley may come
- Endure the valley. James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3) In short, valleys are a part of our spiritual development. They are a part of life.
- Be cautious of feelings. You cannot trust them. Feelings ebb and flow like the weather. If you give excessive attention to feelings, you will find yourself driven by the winds of emotion. Emotions are unpredictable and unstable.
- Most importantly - depend on the grace of God. In II Corinthians Paul discusses the extensive trials he faced. He discusses beatings, hunger, sleeplessness, stoning and more. (11:24-28) In the first chapter of that book Paul testifies that he was “despaired even of life.” (vs. 8) Paul must have struggled with the emotions and feelings of that horrible time. However, he gave this testimony. “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” (1:9) God’s grace raised Paul from the pit of hopelessness to continue serving.
The key phrase from this passage is “IN GOD.” Paul knew that “in God” he could get up, when down. Paul knew that in God he could overcome despair. I once heard a person say, “The grace of God will keep you where the will of God carries you.” We will have highs and lows in ministry. This ebb and flow may get exhausting at times. Always remember God’s grace will keep you. He will never desert you.