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Serving in the Hardest Seasons

How my prayers turned from “woe is me” to “how can I serve others today with the love of Christ?”

It happens to everyone from time to time.

Despair.

Confusion.

Anxiety.

Helplessness.

If you’ve lived long enough, you know that these feelings can sneak into our consciousness during seasons of life when we walk through deep spiritual valleys. And those times can be tough.

Really tough.

Perhaps you’re there now. All of us face tough seasons of life from time to time. Jesus told us when he walked this earth: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

You can have peace. And oh, what peace it is! This peace comes when we trust in him during those despairing seasons. How is it that in the middle of a spiritual storm—when the wind and waves rip us on every side and heavy fogs of confusion and anxiety grip us with every breath—that this peace, this God-given undeniable and unseen peace, abounds and eclipses all the dark despair? I’ll never understand it.

But it’s real.

It’s so very real.

The world can’t see it. And the world can’t fathom it. But to us, his adopted children, his royal priesthood, this perfect peace is closer than the very air we breathe—even in the midst of the storm.

For me, that incredible peace came during a spiritual storm a few years ago when my husband called me with news that rocked our world: he had lost his job during a layoff. It was as if time stood still over the next few days as the magnitude of his job loss sank deep into my spirit. We were a one-income family with seven children, a mortgage, bills . . . Would we lose our house? How could we feed our large family? How would we pay our bills?

All of these questions fogged my mind like a suffocating smoke. But, in the midst of it all, God tenderly spoke life into my worried heart. He spoke his truth into my soul. And the smoke began to dissipate. The questions remained. The unemployment remained. In fact, it remained for nearly two years. But day-by-day, step-by-step, the truth of God's Word began to eclipse the despair and oddly—strangely—I had peace. Incredible peace! God’s Word came alive as never before as I navigated the turbulent waters of that rough season of life. I had read that God was my provider, but I began to know and experience him as my provider! What should have been a time of horrific stress and great emotional turbulence in the world’s eyes became a sacred and holy place of peace as I walked through that season of life.

As I walked with the Savior through that storm, he took me to places in his Word that spoke of giving and serving others. Whether I was reading in 2 Samuel where the David’s mighty men risked their lives to protect him or in Leviticus where the Levites served in the Tent of Meeting, “serving” and “giving” became God’s constant message to me.

But how was I to serve during this season of unemployment? And certainly, God wasn’t expecting me to give during a season when I had so little to give? Or was he?

But, that’s exactly what God was calling me to do! I began to pray that God would open my spiritual eyes to the needs of people around me and reveal ways that I could help them through giving and serving. And he did just that! I learned of a family at our former church in Georgia who had lost their jobs the week before. Incredibly, God asked me to send them a grocery gift card. I did it, not even knowing where our own grocery money would come from that week. Of course, God provided for us, as he always had. He always does when we do things his way.

On another occasion, God called me to fast and pray for a friend who really needed to sell her home. I did it, not even knowing how I would make my own mortgage payment that month. Our home was also on the market due to the unemployment—I needed my own home to sell, but God called me to serve through fasting and prayer for someone else’s needs. And it didn’t stop there—now, five years later, I have a journal full of the times that God called me to be his hands and feet to others through giving and serving during that season of unemployment.

Again and again, I was called to serve and give during one the biggest trials of my life thus far.

And looking back I can see what was happening in my life. As I served and as I gave, the focus was taken off of my own problems. As I served others, my load was somehow lightened. The focus wasn’t totally on my own concerns. I woke up in the morning with prayers for my situation, of course, but my prayers turned from “woe is me” to “how can I serve others today with the love of Christ?”

So what about you? Are you walking in a difficult season today? Are the troubles of this world leaving you with despair and anxiety that are threatening to suffocate all your hope? While you walk through the trials of this life, even in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations, you can have peace. You can walk through those trials with the unspeakable peace that God promises. You can know that perfect peace while you serve and give right in the midst of it all!

Serve. Give. Even when it doesn’t make sense.

After all, that’s the example that Jesus gave us. The last thing he did on this earth was to serve. He knew the gruesome death that awaited him the night before he was crucified. He knew the pain he would endure. Yet, he wrapped a towel around his waist, knelt down on his knees and washed the feet of his disciples. He served. In the midst of his unspeakable pain, he served. Jesus gave of himself to those around him.

And that’s what Jesus calls us to do as well.

Are you in the midst of a marital crisis? Are you broken with a financial crisis? Are you hurting with a prodigal child? Are you physically ill? Whatever you are facing today, pray for your situation—then ask the Lord how you can pray for and serve others who are also struggling. God will open your spiritual eyes to see the needs and hurts around you. Then, be ready to serve and give to the needs of others where the Holy Spirit leads. And friend, you’ll be surprised how quickly your own problems are eclipsed by the perfect peace that only Christ can bring as you serve the needs of others in his great name!

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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