Sunday, March 31, 2013

Refusing to Become Cynical

“Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy.” Philippians 3:1 

 I was a brand new missionary full of untested enthusiasm and met a cynical veteran fellow missionary. She seemed to have given up on Muslims. A hint of sarcasm could be picked up.  "Oh Lord, please help me not to get cynical towards Muslims," I begged. The truth is that being a witness among Muslims is really very hard spiritual work. My efforts seem to be wasted and futile - and make me angry. I can feel used. It’s not like there are spiritual fireworks going off every time I witness. Muslims are not flocking in large numbers to the Lord in my ministry. Nothing looks very successful or impressive. I haven’t planted a church. In fact, I’ve encountered a fair amount of rejection and resistance both to the Message and me as the messenger over the past 35 years. So….how can I be happy and stay happy in such a ministry and avoid becoming cynical? Well, first of all I love Jesus so much, stay close to Him and enjoy our relationship. He is my most prized Possession and Treasure. However.... often I feel stretched with numerous disturbed, damaged, or traumatized people who have demands and too high expectations for me to cope with. It’s like the air gets sucked out of me. Everything can feel futile. Recently when a Muslim cursed us and accused us(ouch!) after helping him for years I struggled with not becoming cynical. The painful treatment was magnified. When cynicism raised its ugly head I knew “list time” had arrived. That's when I write down all the encouraging things which have happened of late. It really helps and can surprise me.  Cynicism is removed. Not ALL is futile. Soon joy begins to well up within me. Lately my list looked like this:

An opportunity arose to show the love of Jesus in a practical way to a needy refugee woman who is overwhelmed. An opportunity arose to lavish the generous grace of God upon a backslidden believer by celebrating her birthday in the restaurant of her choice. A Muslim woman received prayer in Jesus’ name for the first time and experienced hope and comfort. A Muslim, suffering in the hospital for six months and hanging between life and death, allowed prayer for him and on the next visit there was a remarkable improvement. A long passage of 42 verses could be read to a woman who resists surrendering to Christ and she listened closely.  A wealthy secular Muslim woman heard the story of salvation for the first time. There was laughter and fun hanging out with some young Muslim girls. An opportunity arose to go to the mosque for a memorial service where we could be representatives of Christ. Lavish meals and friendship with Muslim friends were enjoyed. A believer friend finally gathered courage and shared her faith with a Muslim. And yes, we could be victorious and pronounce a blessing over the Muslim who cursed us.

Cynicism can easily develop in ministry but I refuse to let it take root. Out, cynicism...In, grace of God!

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to be aware when cynicism arises in me towards the people You have sent me to.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.