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When I Don’t Feel like Serving

Written By Jessica Lim, Singapore

I have been serving as a volunteer at a children’s home for the past 10 months. Recently, its leadership underwent a reshuffle that saw changes to the program as well as to the roles played by volunteers. Uncertain about how the changes would pan out, I struggled with whether I should continue serving there. On one hand, I felt uncomfortable about the inevitable adjustments I would have to make. On the other, after months of guiding the youth and growing together with them, I was attached to them. Unsure of what decision I should take, I turned to God for direction.

As I was reflecting and praying about the matter, God brought to my mind memories of the very day He called me to serve in the home. Recalling the purpose He had for me, I was reminded of what service is all about, through four simple questions.

1. Is my heart aligned to God’s?

One of the very first questions I had asked myself before deciding to serve as a volunteer in the home was: Am I serving God’s purpose, or my own? Sometimes, some of us may have selfish reasons for serving, conscious or not. These include the desire to feel wanted or important, or to get a sense of satisfaction from an achievement. Perhaps we might even think about using our service to barter with God to have a desire fulfilled. This would make us no different from the Pharisees who did good in order to glorify themselves. I was reminded that the purpose of serving is to glorify God and to show love for others. Serving should stem from a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for all the things that God has given to me.

2. Am I serving out of convenience?

Another question I’ve considered is: Am I serving only because the terms of service are in my favor or are convenient for me? Will I simply bolt when the terms are not to my liking, or require me to sacrifice something I’m not prepared to give up? It is easy to serve when we don’t have much to give up; the struggle comes in when we have to give up more than we are willing to. I could calculate the costs and weigh the pros and cons, but ultimately, I had to be prepared to serve at the expense of my convenience or preferences.

3. Am I committed to persevering?

Am I prepared to persevere in the face of challenges while serving, knowing that God is molding me through the process? The best example of someone who persevered is Jesus Himself: On the Mount of Olives, He prayed for God to take away the impending suffering if it was possible, but that God’s will should be done and not His. Despite the anguish He experienced, Jesus went to the cross bravely to fulfil God’s will and to save us from our sins. As Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

4. Am I keeping God’s purpose alive?

One thing I’ve realized in serving is that the initial passion I have to serve God usually fades after a while and is replaced by a sense of obligation. But God has reminded me of the need to give time to purposeful reflection and meditation on His word to fan this passion. This is especially important when times get tough and I lose sight of why I started serving in the first place.

 

At the same time, as I considered these four questions, I was also reminded that serving faithfully didn’t mean that I had to remain in one area of service permanently; God sometimes calls people to move to different areas of ministry. But as I considered moving, I knew that I needed to discern if the desire to move came from God, or from a distracted and tired heart.

Well, as for my final decision—it eventually became clear to me that it was not God’s timing for me to move out of the home. The passion I had to serve the youths there still remained, despite all the changes the home had undergone. If I were to quit just because the program changes were not to my liking, it would mean that I was placing my preferences before God’s, and that I was not trusting God to help me with the uncomfortable adjustments I needed to make.

So I have decided to commit to God and trust that He will provide me with the ability to overcome all the struggles and adjustments. After all, if it is in accordance with His will, I believe that He will give me the strength to persevere.

Photo credit: Ashley Campbell Photography / Foter / CC BY

 

It’s About The Climb

Written by Jessica Lim

I was listening to The Climb by Miley Cyrus the other day when the lyrics got me thinking about the hurdles we face in our life.

I was at the phase of moving on from a broken relationship, when it occurred to me that we often yearn for the day when these feelings of hopelessness, disappointment and regret would all fade away. We tell ourselves to endure the situations we are in, and at the same time, look forward to that day where we would no longer have to deal with them.

But the lyrics reminded me that it’s not about the final destination or even the weeks or months to get there; rather, it’s about the process—of accepting this battle and making good use of this experience to learn to trust and rely wholly on God. In the midst of difficult situations, do we simply wait it out, or take the chance to reflect and apply the lessons that God wants us to learn?

Nobody said that the mountains are going to be easy to climb. But God is our harness. He keeps us from plunging off the mountains. It is through trials that our faith in God is tested. When the wind blows and rocks tumble down, all we have to do is tighten the harness and trust that He will protect us.

In the end, it was through this process that I learnt to find my security and joy in the Lord. It was through the brokenness that my blinded eyes were opened to see God’s abundant love in my life. I thank God for His presence in my life, which assures me that I’ll never have to feel hopeless in the face of adversities.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)

 

Photo credit: fr4dd / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Five Reasons to Rejoice in Suffering

Written by Jessica Lim

With the trials and sufferings that life throws at us, facing these hurdles often makes dealing with life itself wearisome. Whether they are bearable or devastating, each of the struggles has its lessons that are intended by God. So, instead of simply going through the motion or even seeking quick escape, let us learn to rejoice in them!

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” —Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

Here are some reasons why we should rejoice in our sufferings:

  1. It is in these times that God reveals more about our character, as well as His love and grace for us. Only when we open our hearts to Him will we be able to grasp His revelations to us.
  2. It is through our brokenness during trials that we humble ourselves. With this humility, we will be that malleable clay which God molds to become more like Christ.
  3. They give us the motivation to make changes in our lives. A life without suffering has no motivation or desire to improve itself.
  4. They help us realize that we are powerless and helpless alone. But with God and by His strength, we can overcome difficulties, as the verse in Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
  5. They enable us to relate to the people who are going through similar experiences, hence cultivating empathy and compassion. Sufferings increase our capacity to love.

Life will never be a bed of roses. Thankfully in the midst of our sufferings, we can find peace in God’s unfailing love for us, holding not to the false promises of the world, but to His promises of faithfulness, goodness, and deliverance. May we rejoice and reflect the glory of God in our sufferings!

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Written By Jessica Lim

The Bible is clear about the steps of obedience we need to take to love our enemies.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” —Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” —Luke 6:27-28 (ESV)

But the challenges of loving them hinder us.

Occasionally, we have conflicts with people, be it friends, colleagues, or even our loved ones. And it is natural to allow animosity to set in between them and us. We may not necessarily hate them, but we tend to see whoever opposes or disagrees with us as our enemy.

A close friend of mine once misunderstood my intentions with regard to her difficult situation, resulting in tension in the friendship. In dealing with this situation, I could either allow my pride to act, justifying the consequences thereafter, or fight my flesh and abide in Christ.

No one said it would be easy to love our enemies as we struggle to surrender our desire for reprisal. But it is not by our own strength that we can love them; it is through the strength of God that He bestows to us. His Holy Spirit renews our mind against vengefulness. Only when I laid down my pride, not withholding any grudges, and took the first step to apologize and extend grace and love to my friend, did I experience a revival of God’s perfect and gracious love in my own life.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:5-6 that “love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Love goes against our sinful nature of wanting our enemies to fail. Love does not bear grudges towards those who go against us. Love forgives our enemies. Love prays that God is working in their lives. Love hopes that our enemies will one day experience God’s love and be a blessing of love to others.

We do not show perfect love to our friends, let alone our enemies. But God is at work in our lives. As we submit to Him in humility, we can be confident that we have complete victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37)!