A few months back I was honored to meet a special young man, Adam. He is an extremely brave and awesome guy who loves Jesus. I would see Adam and his mother each weekend, as they came to church, and they’d always greet me with a hug and a smile. Then, about a month ago, they approached me with tear-filled eyes and asked me to lay hands on and pray for Adam, because he would be leaving for Basic Training the next day. Recently, Adam’s mother (a wonderful and brave woman herself) read a couple letters that Adam had written to her. In one of them, he asked about me and said some nice things. As is the case with many of the brave men and women who serve this country in our military, Adam has found Basic Training to be difficult. He is holding on to his faith in Christ, but could use some prayer and encouragement. All those reading this, please say a prayer for Adam whenever the Lord puts him on your mind. The following is a letter I wrote to him this morning. I pray it encourages you as well:
Hey man, I just wanted to let you know that you are being thought of and prayed for daily. Your mom let me read the two letters she has received from you. It sounds as though you are going through some rough stuff, however, you are seeing that it is all in preparation for what God is going to be doing with your life. Last night, Pastor Al was reading from 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” He mentioned that most people think that if they are suffering for Christ they are usually thinking of being be-headed or ridiculed for sharing Christ… which it does… but it ALSO can mean that all the stuff that Christ suffered with, we also will suffer with. Stuff like feeling alone… feeling scared… feeling betrayed by friends, etc… Those were all things Jesus went through… and when we go through them, we should “rejoice to the extent that you partake… that when His glory is revealed…”. When we feel like that, we should actually be happy, because it is IN those things that Jesus can get the glory!
I hate to think of you being alone and going through such trials, however, I know that God’s number-one goal for you and I isn’t comfort, but that we might become more like Jesus! To reach that we’ll have to undergo some of the same experiences that Jesus went through – like being misunderstood by our family, ridiculed by others, rejected by the world, and disappointed by the people who say they’re in our corner. It might not make it easier when we are going through hellish times, but knowing that God is getting glory from our lives and the way that we live them… helps. Adam, I want to encourage you in three ways: (1) Stay focused on God’s plan, not your pain. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (NLT). If you look within you’ll feel depressed, if you look without you’ll be distressed, but if you look to Jesus you’ll be at rest. (2) Don’t give in to short-term thinking. Look at Jesus, “Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross”. Keep your eye on the end game. You don’t get the trophy until the race is over, so make up your mind to “stay the course” and finish strong. (3) Start praying the right way. When you understand that God’s objective is to make you more like Jesus, you’ll start praying fewer “comfort me” prayers and more “conform me” ones. Instead of asking, “Why me, Lord?” You’ll ask, “What do You want me to learn, Lord?” James writes, “Let the process go on until… you have become men of mature character” (James 1:4 PHPS). That’s how you and I become more like Jesus.
Again, just know that you are being thought of and prayed for, my friend. Keep strong and keep us informed! May God bless you and keep you until we see each other again!
Passionately pursuing Jesus,
Pastor Michael Craft