When Saying “Anything” Ushers in Suffering

A little more than a year ago, God started tugging on our hearts and showing us that our circle of people really did not include anyone who wasn’t saved. He especially was working on my husband Clint, who’d worked gratefully for a Christian missionary organization for eight years. We had no reason to step away from that career, except that God began to tell us to. He asked my husband, Clint, to leave and begin at a job that was brand-new to him. The risks were many — income would not be guaranteed until he successfully reached a big goal, one that typically was reached in about four to five months. We had savings to last us five months, God was speaking clearly, and the doors were swinging wide open for this new career. We moved forward in confidence, knowing that this was what God was asking us to do. It was exhilarating to think about the relationships that would form and the opportunities to share the Gospel!

We were quickly faced with the reality of just how difficult this process would be. Clint worked diligently to meet his goals, but he kept meeting road blocks. Five months came and went, then seven, then nine. Our family of five was living on Clint’s part-time salary he earned doing media tasks at church, but the money emptied out of our account just as quickly as it came in every two weeks. We faced an extreme financial valley, and the heartbreak of people close to us not understanding our vision. God was creatively providing for our needs, but He was also stripping away so much. We constantly cried out in desperation, asking for His help and intervention, begging Him for mercy. He was often silent, but yet we felt His presence so very close. He affirmed over and over that even though we were suffering, we were acting in obedience.

I read “Anything” voraciously. I realized a myth had circulated in not only our secular society, but also in many of our churches: if you work hard, the rewards will pour in. And if you are met with suffering and opposition, it probably isn’t meant to be. I was so thankful for Jennie’s truth-telling. It spurred us on to be reminded of all the times in Scripture when obedience actually ushered in suffering. Abraham, Job, Mary. Why would we expect to lead comfortable, risk-less lives? This is not the pattern we see in His Word!

We prayed for God to give us an exact goal to reach by the end of June 2015, which would mark a full year on this journey, eight months longer than we ever dreamed we’d be persevering. Our savings had long run out, we’d sold many possessions in order to pay necessary bills, and our sweet house is for sale so we can get out from under the pressure of our mortgage. For the sake of what God had called us to do, we’d let go of so much. The cost was great, but we were honored to obey Him and accept His adventure.

We prayed separately and together, and God so faithfully gave both of us the same goal. We handed it over to Him, trusting that if He desired for it to happen, it would. We hoped that we’d get the victory and the financial reward of meeting our goal. We dreamed of forging new relationships with this career, connections with people who needed the Gospel. We hoped God would affirm that this path we’d begun down would be the path He wanted us to continue on. But we also prayed that if it was not His will, that He would prevent it — and today, July 1, we’re finally on the other side of His answer, accepting His “no,” trusting Him and clinging to Him. He’s told us to move on from the very thing He called us to a year ago.

We’ve learned that God does not only call us to missions that will end in success. Sometimes He asks us to obey even while He knows He won’t allow us to arrive. He’s refined us and taught us to depend only on Him. He’s asked us to trust Him and give Him anything, and now that we have, we joyfully wait for what He has for us next. He’s spent the last painful year preparing us for something beautiful, and we cannot wait to experience it with Him – our Sustainer and Comforter.