I wrote this over a year ago but only last night did I think about sharing it, maybe someone out there is inneed of encouragement 🙂
I met Sarah* at a missionary get together a couple of years ago, something about her drew me to her and we started to talk. As she spoke about life as a missionary wife and how much she was enjoying her work my heart heard otherwise: pain, loneliness, depression. So I asked her how she was doing, immediately she went into describing her ministry. I stopped her mid sentence and firmly told her that was not what I wanted to hear, I wanted to know how SHE was doing. It seemed I touched a raw nerve because she immediately started to cry. It was not as if we were in a private room talking, right in the midst of a group of people Sarah unashamedly cried. It was as if she had been waiting for someone to really see her.
As I prayed and spoke encouragement to her, I wondered if maybe God wanted me to find the time to have her visit me so that she could have someone to unburden herself to. I struggled over what to do as already my plate was so full, were would I find the strength to encourage her when I too had just enough energy for the day? When I am weak, then I am strong…by the time she was leaving we had shared contact numbers and I had told her she was welcome to bring herself and her kids once a week to spend the afternoon with me. And so began my friendship with Sarah.
For two months once a week Sarah came visiting, my heart went out to her as I began to know her more. The amount of pressure that is placed on missionary wives is sometimes unimaginable add to that the high expectations that women in ministry put on themselves, it’s no wonder that so many of us secretly struggle from depression, sometimes not even aware that we have depression. This was the case with Sarah, each Tuesday she would end the visit crying hopelessly over how she could not take it anymore. We slowly worked through some of her issues as best as I could, gently making her realise that most of the pressure she was experiencing was her own doing and maybe she needed to have a different perspective on who God was and her role in ministry. In the end (as an answer to my private prayers) Sarah and her husband decided for her sake to cut short their mission mandate and go back home. There is so much I learned from my time with Sarah, but I really want to concentrate on one aspect.
For most of us in ministry, if we are not careful we gradually begin to view God as a tough taskmaster with no mercy and all about getting the job done come what may. Compassion is for the people we are serving there is no room for failure or showing people weakness. Once we enjoyed a carefree relationship with Christ now its just a list of things to do to show the world that we are very spiritual people and above reproach. Yet inside we are slowly dying, inside we are growing cold to the very One who gave us the call to serve Him. There is a need for each one of us in ministry to ask from time to time: Why am I doing this? What does the Word say about God’s expectations of me? If He asks me to let all this go and spend the rest of my life only worshipping Him, will I be alright? Maybe if we get into the habit of regular soul searching we can conquer despair and depression on the mission field before it conquers us.
(* not her real name)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. Jesus.