Sometimes ministry here can be really difficult. I am not talking about the hardships of living here. Yes, sometimes it is difficult because of physical hardships, but there are things we occasionally deal with that are even more difficult to endure emotionally and spiritually.
Just after the first major earthquake a few years ago, we learned quickly how difficult ministry can be. Though we experienced many things firsthand, we also heard stories of things other groups endured. One group went into a village to help build emergency shelters for earthquake victims. While that group was building, people from the village went through the group's vehicles and stole all their tools and supplies. The group was there to selflessly serve the people, and several of the people took advantage of them. I can't imagine the frustration and heartbreak. That group left the village. Another group, unaware of the previous situation, came in to build and the same thing happened to them.
One time when our group went into a village to help build emergency relief shelters, many people sat around watching them build. As our men worked, several men were mocking them and treating them poorly. Our men were serving and making a difference while others did nothing. Our group kept building and ignored them. They were not doing it for the people. They were building for the glory of the Lord. It was still heartbreaking.
When you pour your heart into serving others, it cuts deeply to have them take advantage of you or to have them show hatred or disdain for you when you love them and want to help.
David knew what that was like.
Psalm 35:13-16 "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth."
When David's enemies were in need, David had compassion. He mourned, prayed, fasted, and treated his enemies like friends and brothers. Then his enemies rewarded him with mockery, false accusations, and cruelty.
David did not retaliate. He didn't seek revenge. How did David get through such heartbreak and difficulty with his enemies? How could he endure such treatment?
- He turned to the Lord and trusted the Lord to handle it. Psalm 35:1 "Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me."
- He rejoiced in the fact that there were people who treasured righteousness. There were people on his side who love God, knew the truth, and supported David. Psalm 35:27 "Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant."
One day as our group of men worked building shelters, men sat around mocking them. Our guys continued working. Then suddenly, a young woman grabbed some of the supplies and started helping. They showed her how she could help, and she worked as hard as any of our men. It put to shame the men sitting around doing nothing. It also encouraged our group.
When people you try to serve do not treat you with the kindness and compassion you showed them, remind yourself that you do what you do for God's glory, not for their appreciation or reciprocation. Continue to love your enemies, do good to them, and pray for them. Let God fight the battle with them because it is an issue of their hearts. Learn to rejoice in those who love righteousness and treat you with kindness. Don't waste your time stewing over those who live to bring you low.