If you think that’s the case, think again. Pastors are subject to the same fears, weaknesses, anxieties, and sins as anyone else. In the midst of challenging circumstances, like anyone else, pastors can find themselves looking to anyone and anything other than God and his Word.
If someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying. Believe me, I know.
I can usually think of a dozen or more passages to quickly apply to someone for their comfort and reassurance. The goal is always to point to Jesus and his precious promises. You don’t need to be a pastor to do this. God’s people are blessed with a knowledge of the Word and with faith in God’s promises. But there are times when such knowledge and faith are tested.
Often, it’s something unexpected: an accident, a medical diagnosis, the breakup of a relationship (involving you or someone close to you). Even expected difficulties hit hard, making it hard to catch one’s breath or to even think.
What are your “go to” passages? What are the promises God gives that are so deeply planted in your heart that you thankfully “default” to them when life blindsides you with hurt and pain and uncertainty?
I’ll share one of mine with you…but first let me share with you why this is on my mind. Back on January 2nd, my daughters were involved in a serious car accident on their way home from the Minneapolis airport. It happened near Menomonie, WI. We know now that they will be OK (though the car was totaled), but it was a frantic few hours. At the time, my wife and I were some 1800 miles away in Arizona, and we listened by speakerphone to EMTs working on our adult children.
While I listened, I felt fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and utter helplessness. It only got worse when we heard that they needed ambulances and then were out of touch with them for several hours. My “pastor mindset” was AWOL. For a few frantic moments, I looked everywhere except where I needed to. My heart didn’t really settle down until I forced myself to think through some of God’s precious promises and we finally heard from the doctor who was treating them; she assured us that their injuries were not life-threatening. They’re back at work and continue to heal from the impact of the accident.
Did you catch these words in that last paragraph: “My heart didn’t really settle down until I forced myself to think through some of God’s precious promises.” I wish I’d done it immediately, but I did finally get around to God’s comforting words. One passage that I’ve relied upon again and again (this time, too!) is found in 2 Chronicles 20:12.
You have a choice to make every time a crisis hits. What will you do? How will you react? How will you handle it? Take your cue from King Jehoshaphat who, when confronted with impossible odds and certain defeat at the hands of an enemy, said, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you, (Lord).” (2 Chronicles 20:12b) I’m grateful to be able to personalize this and simply say, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you, Lord.”
A New Testament version of this: “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author of our faith and the one who brings it to its goal.” (Hebrews 12:2) Indeed, my fearful, anxious heart needs to spend more time looking at Jesus and less time looking at the things that fill me/us/the world with fear.
Thank God for his rich grace! Thank God for his endless comfort! Thank God for his gracious care! Thank God for his powerful Word!
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand