Pastor, You Are Loved to the End

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David’s words are mine some days. 

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18).

I know some of you would slowly nod your head to this too, as your eyes are cast downward, the contemplations of your heart reeling in a grey, slow-motion fog. “Have I been made for this work?”, you ask? “Of course”, you answer. But probably too quickly, and maybe for the first time you are not so sure. 

I think about David. I guess he was no pastor, but he had those boyhood sheep. I wonder if he let his mind wander to those early mornings in the fields when he sang songs and got into wrestling matches with hungry lions. The troubles of my heart are enlarged. He probably remembered when his heart was large for other, less distressing matters. 

Maybe you remember too, pastor. You remember thinking that the job was going to be hard, but maybe not so heavy. And so, like all the called men you know, you begin to roam the ruins.

Another marriage has unraveled.

Another man has reached the end of his days.

Another women has been cruelly harmed. 

Another child has thrust his mother and father into despair. 

“This is the church?” you ask, knowing the answer already. But not just that. This is the church that Jesus builds. 

Turn to me and be gracious…

For a moment, we forget, and our love affair with self-pity tempts our hearts to give into its craftiness once again. But Jesus is still the God of our moments, and when loneliness and affliction have painted us with a darker tint of color, we remember this: we have been considered. 

Consider my affliction and trouble and forgive all my sins. 

And not only considered, but loved.  

…having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (John 13:1b)

Loved to the end by the one who became lonely for your loneliness, afflicted for your affliction, troubled for your troubles, distressed for your distresses, sacrificed for your sins. 

This is the church that Jesus builds, with shepherds he buys with payment of blood to build it. Afflicted, yes, but not crushed. Perplexed to be sure, but not driven to despair. Rather, loved to the end by our Lord who we will someday see face to face in a world without end. So hope again pastor, if even faintly.

Pastor, if you find yourself in this place today, I’d love to talk. You can contact me at ronnie@substance-church.org 

  Ronnie Martin is   founder   and lead pastor of Substance Church in Ashland & Wooster Ohio, author of Stop Your Complaining, and co-host of The Happy Rant Podcast w/ Barnabas Piper and Ted Kluck. You can follow him @ronniejmartin.

Ronnie Martin is founder and lead pastor of Substance Church in Ashland & Wooster Ohio, author of Stop Your Complaining, and co-host of The Happy Rant Podcast w/ Barnabas Piper and Ted Kluck. You can follow him @ronniejmartin.