I have had the unfortunate opportunity to endure not one, but two, exceptionally difficult ministry experiences. The first one involved me directly while I was working on a small ministry team at a large church. The details aren’t important, but it devastated me at the time. It didn’t change my view of who God was, but it was disheartening to see a ministry leader behave in very ungodly ways that were destructive to me and many others.
Eventually I healed, but I didn’t realize that first event was preparing me for things to come. The next ministry falling out also impacted me deeply, but this time it was my husband who was the target. I wanted to scream from the rooftops – Why won’t anyone hold this leader accountable? Why is everyone allowing him to get away with it? We weren’t the first victims of this man’s manipulation and it was maddening and hurtful and discouraging. I’m embarrassed to say that my husband and I did our fair share of commiserating after this took place. It was pretty ugly. We were so mad at this ministry leader who had acted so terribly that it was completely consuming us.
Until one day when God gently spoke something into my heart that has become my mantra through the years.
The depravity of man does not change the faithfulness of God.
In that moment, I realized that just because our plans had been thwarted by one man acting in sin, didn’t mean that God had abandoned all His good plans for us. That one incredible truth lifted the burden of bitterness from my heart and set me free.
When I shared it with my husband later, and encouraged him that it was time for us to move on into whatever God had planned for us, he didn’t receive it well. In his anger and bitterness, his heart wasn’t ready to hear truth. I would later learn that it was this conversation that was the turning point – the beginning of the end of my marriage. My desire to move away from dwelling in the hurt of the past and to move forward trusting in God’s goodness and faithfulness was viewed by him as being unsupportive.
Perhaps the irony of it all is that it has been this same truth that has carried me through my separation and divorce. This isn’t the future I had planned for myself, being a single mom struggling to make ends meet. I married someone with a heart for ministry and I intended that to be forever. But one bad ministry experience destroyed his heart and he became something that wasn’t at all who I married. He changed.
But God never did. When I was devastated, He provided comfort and hope. When I was lonely, He provided amazing friends and a godly support network. When I got wound up in my emotions, He prompted me with truth. When I thought I wouldn’t have enough to get by, He has always provided. When I needed a new home, He provided one in my favorite neighborhood. When that home needed to be furnished, He provided every. single. thing.
My God is good. My God is faithful. We are a fallen people who consistently make choices and decisions that negatively impact others. Sometimes we are the victim of other people’s poor choices. We didn’t contribute to it, didn’t get a say in it. Wallowing in our victimization is a tempting game but it only leads to bitterness… and that is a disease that will eat you alive! Wherever you’ve been, whatever has happened, I want you to know that God sees and nothing about His faithfulness to you has changed. Trust in the only One who is working all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8: 28).