5 Things I Learned From Getting Sick On My Biggest Ministry Week of the Year
For a Student Pastor, camp is kind of like the Super Bowl. To find a camp you actually look forward to is kind of like winning the jackpot. Last year, we went to Crossings Cedarmore and the students not only loved it, but I loved it. I actually looked forward to going back this year. I had plans. I had dreams. I had aspirations. I was pumped up!
Last week we went to camp and all of those things came crashing down for me. We left on Tuesday. The day before, I could tell I didn't feel quite right. I thought it was nerves. This continued on into Tuesday, but we loaded up and left and I made it to camp without issue. We got settled in, but that evening things began unsettling for me. As the sickness ramped up, I pretty much became debilitated. I tried to tough it out and end up having to come home on Thursday before camp is over. Nothing went as planned and I pretty much just felt defeated.
However, through this experience, I have some takeaways that I'd love to share with you. I've sat and asked myself, "Why would God allow this to happen when I'm serving him?" I essentially don't have a definitive answer except that our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3). I do think there are always things we can learn though and I have tried to sit and think and learn from this situation. Here are a few of my big conclusions:
God is Sovereign
Obviously, we know this, but sometimes we want to question it. I certainly wanted to question it this past week. I thought, “Why would God allow this to happen during this week? God, what are you doing? I’m serving you so what’s the deal?” Ultimately, God has greater purposes than I do. He has better purposes than I do and Romans 8:28 tells me that he’s working those things for my good, which brings me to my next point…
God is Good Even When it Doesn’t Feel Like It
We all have in our minds what goodness is or what it looks like. But with God, there is more than meets the eye. Me being sick during a huge ministry week didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel like God was good. The fact is though that we know what goodness is because God is good. We have a category for good and bad because God has given us standards of morality. God, in his goodness, sometimes moves in ways that we can’t understand.
Was God any less good because he allowed Satan to test Job? I’m sure Job did not feel like God was good. Was God any less good when he said of Paul, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name (Acts 9:16).” If Job and Paul only acted based on what they felt then Job probably would have taken his wife’s advice and cursed God. Paul most certainly would have thrown in the towel amidst all he endured. However, these men knew God and his character. They knew that their feelings can sometimes lie to them. They trusted that God is good.
God Doesn’t Need Me
When we’re working hard and doing things in ministry we can sometimes start to think we’re necessary. We can begin to feel as though the whole thing hinges on us. I can sometimes feel like that, but getting sick was a great reminder that God doesn’t need me. If Cam Hyde died tomorrow, student ministry at First Baptist East Bernstadt would continue on. It’s actually a really freeing feeling when you accept that God does the spiritual work and he chooses to use us. It’s freeing to know that everything doesn’t hinge on us, but that God invites us in and our blessing is that we get to be a part of it. Because of this we should…
Cheer Others On
We’re in this together. We’re not competing against each other. We should be working with one another for God’s Kingdom and his glory. Paul said he didn’t care if people were sharing the gospel to spite him; he just cared that the gospel was being shared (Philippians 1:18). It’s so good to cheer people on and see them succeed. Some awesome things happened in the lives of our students at camp this year and I got to cheer our leaders and students from the sideline. While I was sad I couldn’t be there, I was so overjoyed that God was moving. It felt really good to cheer others on. We should be striving for the success of others because…
It Takes Everyone
Paul talks about how each person is gifted individually and we need each other to make up a full working body (1 Corinthians 12:21). I was so grateful for the other three leaders who went with us and stepped up in huge ways while I was gone. I can tend to want to work in isolation, but I was so happy to have the body of Christ with me at camp. I was so grateful that the Christian life isn’t a solo mission, but it’s a team effort. I’m not sure the other three leaders will ever truly know how grateful I am for them, but it was my joy to know that God was using other people while I was sidelined. I am so grateful for the body of Christ and how God designed us to serve each other. He truly is wise.
Camp certainly wasn’t what I expected it to be this year, but I am so grateful God is moving in our student ministry and beginning to answer many of the prayers we’ve been praying. I’ve been encouraged over and over again by the stories I’ve heard about what God is doing in the lives of students in our ministry. I am excited about what’s ahead and I’m grateful for what he taught me and reminded me of while I was sidelined. God will make his name great in the hearts of people and he graciously invites us to join him in his work.