Perseverance in Evangelism
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
Dear Fellow Evangelist,
Do you ever get tired?
Do you ever feel weary?
Do you ever feel you have nothing left to give?
Do you ever just feel empty?
Do you ever just want to quit?
Maybe I am much weaker than you, but I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to throw in the towel and say I am done. I quit. I can’t go on. I have nothing left to give. Whether it is from financial struggles, my own insecurities, attack on my family, time and cost to my family, conflict with staff, lack of results, or the guilt of my own sin that remains inside of me, I sometimes want to quit.
Being a minister for so long, you grow tired of the crazy hours, the travel, comparing to the success of others, lack of support from the church, feeling alone, feeling misunderstood, being overwhelmed and almost paralyzed by all the darkness as you hear stories from people day after day. So yes, there has not been a year that has gone by, not even six months, not even a couple months in the scope of my 37 years of ministry when I have not wanted to quit.
Some seasons it’s weekly, some almost daily. I must admit, I have even drafted resignation letters. Many times, I felt like the paralytic who was carried to Jesus by his friends (Mark 2:1-12). I always picture those four guys, that core group. The people who carry you when you can’t carry yourself. People who pray for you when you can’t pray for yourself. I can say I have had a “core four” through many hard seasons, plus many others to carry me when I can’t carry myself.
After being an Evangelist for 37 years, a few years ago, I experienced a season when I wanted to quit like never before. In just a little over a year, I experienced the trials of loss and pain in indescribable proportions. I lost two of my “core four” to early deaths. One was one of my closest friends, and the other was my brother, both a mentor and a pastor. God led my third core friend to move closer to his grandchildren. This all brought grief, pain, and loss to a depth I had never experienced. Add on top of that over ten more deaths a couple circles out from me due to suicides and cancer, including a friend of 36 years to throat cancer.
Have you ever been in this place? Many people reach out, and yet you still feel so alone. You just want to quit, or even sabotage the ministry so you can’t go on. You feel like there is no one there.
For me, I cried out in this dark night of my soul to the Holy Spirit and I said, “I need you, and I need you to take away this pain I am in.” In response, all I could hear Him say was “The pain will not go away.”
It says in Lamentations, “I will not forget this sorrow and bitterness in my soul” (Lamentations 3:19-20). This was exactly how I felt, but then the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “The pain will not go away, but you don’t have to let it steal the joy around you or deter you from your mission.”
And what is that mission? Acts 20:24 says it clearly: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (NIV)
Have I wanted to give up? Yes.
Will I? Never.
The call is too great. The purpose, such a worthy cause. Even in the darkest moments when it seems there is nowhere to turn, God is doing a thousand things we can’t see, and He never leaves or forsakes us. So, in the midst of it all, I cling to Galatians 6:8b-9: “…the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (ESV).
Don’t give up! Let us persevere for the sake of the Gospel!