When I started applying to seminary, I asked my best friends’ dad to fill out my pastoral recommendation. He agreed readily, excited to see how I would unfold but he gave me a piece of advice early in that conversation. He told me that the devil would do anything he could to prevent another effective tool of ministry and to be prepared because deciding to be that effective tool was asking to be a target. When I started buying school books for my first semester of the apologetics degree, there was a book recommended by almost every professor, “How To Stay Christian In Seminary.”
You probably see where I am going now. I had no idea how relevant that advice would be for me. My life has gone haywire lately right as I begin coursework (my first courses opened yesterday). I remove one aspect of temptation or failure and another immediately comes up. It makes sense, if you think about it, we on this journey are responsible for winning souls and maintaining the faith of the next several generations. You don’t want your enemy to have leaders and guides. You don’t want them to have teachers that will train them to endure. Christian ministers and teachers are the threat to the devil’s plan. He has to break as many people on this journey as possible.
The forward of How to stay Christian is written by John Piper. I’m going to share a bit of it.
“And in it all, expect to suffer. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22)- and ministry. There are things you cannot know without suffering. God has special tutorials in tribulation for his shepherds. Do not begrudge the seminars of suffering. His aim is to make you, like Jesus, a sympathetic shepherd. It’s scary. Paul prayed that he would share Christ’s sufferings and become like him in his death (Phil. 3:20). God answered him. He was forsaken at his last trial (2 Tim. 4:16), and the Romans took him out. We are not playing games.”
You survive tribulation by falling more into God. What the devil would use for evil we can use for good. When your faith is threatened, strengthen it. When you reach points where you have nothing left; that is when we can be built up the most. Have faith that God will provide because He will. Do not succumb to the tactics of a skilled opponent. The devil has had thousands of years to perfect his assaults on people. We can’t hope to match him on our own so call upon your advocate. There is nothing in heaven or hell that is more powerful than our advocate.
Pray more, meditate on the word, and remember that all Christians are called to carry a cross and follow Christ.