Author: John Boland
Category: Workplace Ministry, Unreached People Groups, Cities
In the workplace, life happens and is lived out. Christians need to be Biblically prepared to address and minister to everyone as the issues of life bloom before us and as conflict explodes at our feet. If we are aware that our work environment is our mission field, then we should be fully equipped mentally, physically and spiritually to deal with not only our own problems but be able to minister to our co-workers as they deal with theirs. How then should we handle the problems we face so not to embarrass ourselves, or the God we represent? What are the issues that we will face in the work place?
Blame, difficulties, disappointment, discouragement, obstacles, pain, problems, ridicule, trials, tribulations, and troubles, all are issues of life that test our metal as Christians. I for one do not buy into the popular cliché that says we should look at any of these cases saying, “What would Jesus do”? What we should be trying to do is discover whether we are reacting or responding to the issues of life? The answers can only come from a sound personal biblical foundation.
What does the Bible say concerning problems? In James 1:2-4 the writer tells us to be content with our relationship to Christ even when life gets hard. We know that when our faith is tested it will produce patience. As patience matures then our inner character is strengthened. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul told us that the Holy Spirit comforts us in all that we will go through no matter how bad it might seem. Wow, I love that promise! This comfort will give us a testimony before others (co-workers). Having gone through our own crisis we are in a position to ease the stress of others and pass on the blessings of God to them. Paul shared in Romans that we should rejoice in the hope that is found in God when going through various burdens because we are told this will come our way! An attitude of contentment will bring us through any kind of distress and as we struggle with each situation that will produce perseverance. This renewed resolve will result in endurance, which further builds up our character, and the formation of moral backbone that brings out the hope found in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:2-4; 12:12). As people see us go through these personal trials with peace and contentment (vs. falling apart at the seams) they will take notice and this, then gives opportunity for personal ministry. As a Christian what can, or should, we expect when life breaks down and the wheels fall off?
WHAT TO EXPECT:
What people need to know is the fact that pain and suffering exists in the world! Such conditions are here even without any thought of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. People endure self inflicted consequences, have medical conditions, experience trouble unrelated to anything they have done, bear burdens of both the physical and/or emotional nature, put up with difficulties and difficult people, go through horrible situations all without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. According to early Scriptural accounts Christians should not be surprised when these things happen (Philippians 1:29-30; Job 5:6-7; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 4:12)! Certainly we must understand their political and religious environment back then and what anxiety they might have had when facing the possibility of severe persecution. So what can we say about today? It’s pretty certain based on Scripture that we too will see problems in our lifetime. In many parts of the world persecution of Christians still exists! So what does God promise us when things do not go well?
Non-believers live a life without hope and need to know of a God who promises to be there for them in time of need. Not necessarily to take us out of the situation or to turn the everyday and sometimes severe problems away from us but as we go through He is there to help us, encourage us, provide for us and meet our every need (Psalm 30:5, 34:19-20; Isaiah 43:2). This is not to say that God can’t or doesn’t deliver us out of problems. Sometimes He will (Psalm 41:1 and 50:15). However, if we are honest with co-workers they need to understand that unpleasant situations do have consequences which teach us God ordained life lessons without which anyone of us would miss the real blessings of an Almighty Father (Proverbs 3:12). The Lord wants us to depend on His Word because it is true, authentic, and believable at all times, and necessary in times of need (Isaiah 43:20). He wants us to call upon Him in our time of crisis (Psalm 34:4). Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians reasoned that our attitude should be one of boasting about our short comings, failures, and self-inflicted wounds because God’s strength is made perfect in our flaws, failings, and limitations (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Consider that the next time you are on a break with co-workers! Non-believers and new believers really (really) need to know that the Lord Jesus Christ further promised not to allow anyone (not one person) to go through anything beyond their individual breaking point (1 Corinthians 10:13). If they will believe and rely on Him, then there is no reason for anyone to go through life not knowing about this hope. This is why they need to see how different Christians deal with stress in attitude and how we respond.
So if stress is a fact of life, what should be our attitude through these stressful conditions? As Christians, our mind-set should be humble (Isaiah 66:2), we should have a positive outlook, stay thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and be patient with both circumstances beyond our control and with people (James 1:2-4, 6). We should not be afraid (1 Peter 3:14). Even if things don’t go our way we should remain faithful (2 Corinthians 5:7-9). We should continue doing the right things for the right reasons because that is what we believe (1 Peter 4:17-19). We should not be deceived when others try to take advantage of us. Let God take care of them. We shouldn’t seek ill of them or anyone whether in court or otherwise (1 Corinthians 6:3-10). Pray for and forgive our enemies rather than seek revenge on them (Matthew 5:44). Do not rejoice in the troubles of others but pray for the best for them. God promises to take on our opponents for us and we believe God (Psalm 34:15; 2 Chronicles 15:4). Be obedient to the direct Word of God. Don’t be surprised when adversity, calamity or difficulties come on us.
So, is there really a purpose to pain and suffering? These twins of misery have been around since the introduction of sin (Romans 5:12, 20)? Jesus suffering was for the forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 2:8-11; 1 Peter 3:18)! If we respond in Christ likeness while facing our personal suffering, we give rise to an opportunity to experience the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), which brings about glory and honor to God through our conduct and character (as stated earlier). Unfortunately, many Christians and non-believers choose to react to the pressures of life which simply allows our affliction to become personal torment and pain without value. Which of these two choices do you think will be viewed by those around us [co-workers, friends & family] as making a positive difference and open the door to personal ministry?
If we simply react to the problems of life, we set ourselves up for compounding our situation. Scripture cautions us to be careful! While under stressful conditions, we could be persuaded to seek things other than God. This could lead us into a lifestyle of sin which might lead to death. This road ultimately leads to eternal separation from all things good, honorable and godly. Under such an influence the desire for worldly things can grip our lives (2 Samuel 11:2-4). We find ourselves continually attracted toward supporting unwise decisions and questionable causes (Matthew 5:28). These things will then lead us away from godly pursuits (1 John 2:16), and eventually take us completely away from God (Romans 6:12, 23). By running away, trying to ignore the main problem, or dealing with side issues rather than facing up to them we open the door to more complicated matters. One might be dealing with the idea of worshipping things that never satisfy, or being enchanted with unexplainable lifestyles. Another way of over reacting that might show up in a persons’ life might be expressed through hating others for no apparent reason, taking on a lifestyle of violent behavior, or having an unhealthy possessiveness of people and things. Further evidence of this is having a reputation known for regular outbursts of anger, being driven by selfish desires, or just being rebellious and irreverent toward things of God, family and anything considered “good and acceptable” (Galatians 5:20). This attitude and way of life even carries over to finding fault in others, combined with the inability to accept one’s own shortcomings (Genesis 2:12). After a time this routine leads to a spirit without hope (Proverbs 15:13), uncontrolled greed, being disillusioned with everything good and anyone who even tries to help (Proverbs 15:16-17, 16:8), eventually fighting it expresses itself through serious bouts of depression (Exodus 6:9). Check out the downhill slide and final days of King Saul if you want to read about this in detail (1 Samuel 16 – 28).
There is hope, only if we respond in Christ likeness to these issues by seeking a higher purpose and a better outcome for our life. One way is to set your mind on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2-3). Another is to pray about each situation or condition. Then put feet to our prayers as opportunities present themselves. After that, leave each situation to the Lord without constantly worrying about it. Worry is defined as assuming responsibilities God never intended us to have (Philippians 4:6-7). Give God thanks, because thankfulness should inhabit ones’ prayer life (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and give Him glory & praise in everything (good/bad times, trials, tribulations, crisis, illnesses, accidents, etc.). As stated earlier, believers know these situations develop Christian character resulting in a lifestyle of hope. We also know that true godly optimism does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5). Finally, in responding to whatever life throws at us we develop Godly conduct, character and trust because we know He is trustworthy (2 Peter 3:11; 2 Corinthians 1:9).
All right, so we act according to the Scriptures, what do we think will happen? The results are many! As Christians, who face all forms of life issues bring opportunities for us to receive Godly comfort and solace, which is not easily understood by those around us not having a relationship with Jesus but they do recognize the difference. When unbelievers experience similar situations in their lives, we are then afforded the opportunity to express Godly comfort and concern toward them. We must not pass this opportunity up! This is our chance for ministry. This will be a great non-verbal expression of God’s love which will be more powerful than any sermon, discussion or bible study you could offer (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 7). We must always remember that our hope is always found in Christ, no matter how desperate, difficult, or humiliating the conditions (2 Corinthians 4:8). Paul reminded us that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35)! As stated earlier, we should have no fear concerning anything that would befall us but be ready to explain to anyone who asks about the hope that is in us. We should face every situation, whether it happens to us or we are involved with others, with a clear conscience and stand strong in the Lord (1 Peter 3:13-22).