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When I can’t serve

When I can’t serve
Photo by Matt Brodie

By Jessica Brodie

Have you ever been frustrated because you can’t do something you desperately, fervently want to do? I’m physically healthy and fit, and I have a desire to serve hands-on in so many ways. Some of the most wonderful and fun experiences of my life have been serving on mission teams—one in Zimbabwe, one in Puerto Rico and one just across the state in the flood-ravaged town of Sellers.

Yet for a variety of reasons—major family health troubles and issues with my kids in particular—right now I am unable to go and do in person what my soul desires most. Some days it makes me want to throw a tantrum: I wanted to go on that Early Response Team trip (see Page 1) to help after the tornados in Alabama! I’d love to head over to Haiti and Guatemala (also Page 1) to help with ongoing missions there! I can’t right now, and it makes me unbelievably frustrated.

But here’s what I can do: I can contribute money to help other people have a chance to do this. I can write articles about these missions to help spread awareness. I can pray for the teams and those being served that the Holy Spirit will magnify their work and glorify God Almighty.

I can do so much more to help than I imagine … even when I’m not physically doing the work. We all can.

Sometimes we diminish the work we do behind the scenes, but God is able to use each one of us to fulfill His purposes no matter our role. I think of the apostle Paul, stuck in a prison cell, aching to join his Christian brothers and sisters who were hard at work growing the early church. Paul doesn’t strike me as one content to sit on the sidelines; I imagine he wanted to be front-and-center, right in the midst of the action, risking his life to spread the gospel across the land. Yet despite his desires, he’d spend the rest of his life in prison, forced to conduct his ministry by letter instead of in person.

Perhaps Paul was frustrated he couldn’t be there. Perhaps he thought he wasn’t doing enough. Yet today, those letters he wrote while trapped in prison ended up comprising half the New Testament—of the 27 books in the New Testament, 13 or 14 are traditionally attributed to Paul. His influence and reach reverberates today.

If you are feeling frustrated you aren’t doing all you’d like to do for God right now, I offer you a few verses to remind you God is using you always, even when you can’t see it:

  • “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV).
  • “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58b).
  • “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
  • “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand’” (John 13:7).
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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