Summary: When we finally have had enough of brokenness, marginalization, or irrelevance, we will find that making our way through the crowds to reach Jesus can give us victory.

“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” [1]

She has no name, at least none of us in this day know her name. However, this woman had a problem—a serious problem. She had “a discharge of blood.” We aren’t told whether she had a vaginal discharge or whether she suffered with an open wound that would not heal. It is not important what the hemorrhage might have been, what is important for us today is that this woman was ceremonially unclean. Her condition meant that she could not go to the Temple to worship. There were no holy days for her, nor even a day of worship in the synagogue. It was even worse than we imagine. Because she was ceremonially unclean, not even her family could spend time with her.

For twelve long years she had been excluded from worship. If she tried to go to the Temple, she would be debarred from entering into the Temple precincts. She would be kept outside, roughly pushed away so that she was kept from coming before the LORD. That was terrible, but even worse was the fact that she was excluded from intimacy, shunned even by her family. She had not been hugged for twelve long years! Not even her children had given her a hug throughout those years. She had not received a kiss from her husband, her mother or father; she hadn’t even been greeted by a close friend.

As the years had passed, friends that had once spoken with her or who had even entertained her in their home saw her less frequently, until at last they stopped speaking with her at all. She wasn’t really welcome to sit with the family for a meal, and she had not been included at dinner parties hosted by people she had known from years past. Strangers, when they were informed of her situation, would turn and walk away without speaking. In short, this poor woman was socially isolated, excluded by everyone.

Family members still cooked meals for her, but like someone unvaxxed at a Christmas party she ate alone. There would be no pleasant conversation over a meal. For years she had not heard anyone ask about her day—everyone knew her days consisted of dreary sameness. She woke up, dressed, spent the day alone with limited conversation until darkness at last arrived sending her once again to the confines of her bed until she would awaken the next day only to begin the same, dull, maddening routine of isolation.

She had consulted physicians—multiple physicians, spending everything she had in a futile search for a cure. She was desperate to be cured, and the physicians promised so much, and delivered so little. One after another they had promised relief, promised healing, but all that was ever accomplished was to lighten her purse and make the physicians richer. I suppose friends had promised to pray for her. But as time passed and she was not healed, the promises of prayer dropped off and she saw them less frequently.

What is important for our study this day is that she appears to have come to the conclusion that enough was enough. A report concerning the Prophet from Galilee reached her ears. Perhaps by chance she had overheard an excited conversation; however it had happened, she learned the Jesus of Nazareth was soon to pass through her town. She had heard about Him. The reports sounded almost too good to be true. People claimed to have been healed. There were wonderful reports of people who were born blind receiving their sight, reports of deaf people hearing the sound of their children’s voices for the first time, marvellous reports of crippled people walking without so much as a limp. The reports were so fantastic that they were hard to believe. And yet…

She had witnessed none of these miraculous events. She didn’t know anyone who had been healed. Still, if there was even a scintilla of truth in any of these reports, perhaps it was possible that she could be healed. Imagine! Eating meals with her husband and her children. Visiting with friends and even entertaining them in her home! Her own home! Most exciting of all would be the opportunity to go to the Temple on the holy days, or to meet the other women of her village at the well, or to be present in the synagogue. Was it possible that her life could be restored to what it once had been? After all these years of longing for a measure of normality, could it really happen?

She had heard the reports then circulating, and hope stirred deep with her at what she had heard. Suddenly, there was the crowd. She knew that signalled that the Prophet was there. He was only a matter of meters away from where she stood. People were pushing and shoving to be near the man. Because everyone was excitedly crowding around Him, no one even gave her a glance. This was it! If there was any hope of healing, she had to seize the opportunity! The opportunity might never present itself again. Her heart was pounding, and a voice screamed in her head, “I’ve had enough!”

I am certain that even now I am speaking to someone who is inwardly screaming, “I’ve had enough!” Perhaps it is a broken relationship that drives you to that inward scream, compelling you to go in search of One who can heal what seems irreparably broken. Perhaps it is a physical or an emotional condition that leaves you so exhausted that you are actually excluded from any meaningful social intercourse. Perhaps it is a sense of hopelessness as you try to think of what you can contribute to this life or as you question whether you can ever anticipate eternity in the presence of the God Who loves you. When your screams finally break out openly and you determine to seek out the only One who can fulfil your aspirations, you will have taken the first step to wholeness.

I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF BROKENNESS — I’m speaking today to someone who feels broken, and whether your feelings are intense or merely nagging, in your heart you know you are broken. Perhaps your spouse deserted you, trampling your sense of security and your self-worth in the mud. Perhaps a child has fabricated wild stories to justify their own failure, and that child has broken you in ways even you don’t understand. Perhaps it is simply that life has assailed you so often and so viciously that you are utterly broken.

For some who hear me at this hour, it seems as if you come to the house of God, and here you are greeted by people whom you know genuinely love you. You force yourself to smile and politely nod as they ask how you are doing; but inwardly, you are painfully aware that your smile is a thin disguise. It was only with incredible effort that you managed to crawl out of bed this morning. You knew you should eat breakfast, but you didn’t even feel like pouring milk over your cereal. The pain and fatigue were so intense that you simply wanted to crawl back under the covers and shut out the day.

You’ve often wished that someone could see the fatigue that attends the constant pain, pain that seems never to end. You hear the well-meaning words of dear friends saying to you, “You look good,” and you wish you had the courage to say, “This is a better day, but better days only mean that I’m struggling more successfully than usual.” Deep down, you want to scream out that you are hurting and that the pain has drained you of almost all ability to be gracious. It is only by drawing on your last energy reserves to be gracious that you are able to be civil. You wish someone could see the pain that gnaws at your very soul, but you will keep on struggling because, well, because you don’t see anything else you can do! Your choice is either to give up, or continue struggling moment-by-moment. One day at a time, and even that response is in doubt on most days.

I remember the days when I was adjusting to the wreckage of life after suffering a devastating brain injury during a truck crash. I recall those days because I still live with many of the deficits forced upon me. Though I was experiencing an extended list of symptoms pointing to a serious brain injury, I continued preaching. It became a burden to continue preaching the Word, preparing and delivering messages that God was using despite my personal limitations of which I was keenly aware. Repeatedly, parishioners would speak with me after a message, and I often heard people express their confusion with words along the line of, “You look so well. Are you sure you’re injured?” After each such expression I often said to my wife, “I could wish that an arm had been torn off, or that a leg had been ripped from my body. Then, my pain would be obvious.”

I suffered from one, long, continuous migraine-like headache for over seven years. I went to bed with blinding pain in the evening, and I awakened with the same headache pain the following morning. But who can see headache pain? And though those devastating headaches are less frequent, they continue to a distressing degree to this day. My pleas to the Lord throughout those long, dark days seemed unheard, unanswered, until I at last was enabled to hear His voice reminding me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:9a].

I vividly remember the first time I awakened on a morning and I had no headache pain. I lay still, wondering if this was Heaven. Nothing had ever felt so refreshing as lying still without the constant pain that had marked my days for over seven years. I thought I had died, and the absence of pain was evidence that I had been set free.

Only gradually and occasionally am I able to confess as does the Apostle Paul, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:9b]. I know I should confess, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:10]. I am able to say this at times, but honesty compels me to confess that this is not my normal condition. I am broken, and I know my brokenness. The Spirit of Christ graciously ministers through me in my brokenness and whatever I may accomplish I accomplish in the power of Christ.

I know a little of what the Apostle is saying when he writes the saints gathered in Philippi, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [PHILIPPIANS 4:11b-13].

When we first arrived in Canada, the denomination that had asked me to serve them here had precipitously curtailed promised support a week before we arrived. The denomination leader that had recruited me to come to Canada had overpromised support, and now that we had arrived, he sheepishly confessed that he couldn’t keep the written promises he had made before we left everything in Texas. For three years, Lynda and I put God to the test, literally praying for daily bread as the Master taught His disciples. You recall that prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray?

Jesus taught His disciples a model prayer that goes like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

[MATTHEW 6:9b-13]

The congregation grew and the Lord provided through His people. Out of our experience of being compelled to depend upon the Living God, I can testify that God is faithful. Many times I told our children that we would trust God and continue serving Him.

Our family witnessed His faithfulness on multiple occasions as He provided sufficient food for that particular day in which we prayed. Our family learned to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This became a constant prayer that our family offered as a plea to the Lord! Our children were taught to ask for God’s provision, and the Lord did feed us, providing our needs day-by-day. It is quite obvious from looking at me that I haven’t missed many meals, and I readily testify that it is because God has graciously and generously provided for me throughout the years of my walk with Him. We are not taught to pray for monthly bread, or for weekly bread, or even bread for the day after tomorrow; we are promised bread for this day and no more. God was proved faithful through those demanding days even when need prevailed and abundance seemed absent.

When the LORD fed Israel in the wilderness, you will recall that He sent enough food for the day—no more, no less. Therefore, we read in Scripture, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat” [EXODUS 16:16-18]. There was sufficient for the day, and none left over for the next day.

For years, both of my daughters suffered from the ravage and ruin that accompanies chronic Lyme disease; my surviving daughter still combats that disease. Watching my daughters as they have courageously faced the devastation of this awful condition, I’ve witnessed the reality that just because someone is having a good day doesn’t mean that they are no longer crushed by the constant physical and emotional drain that accompanies pain. Just because others cannot see your struggle does not mean there is no struggle. Surely, the words of the Wise Man apply in this situation:

“The heart knows its own bitterness,

and no stranger shares its joy.”

[PROVERBS 14:10]

I know that I’m speaking to someone today who feels broken—and they are broken! For some who listen at this hour, it is a physical ailment, a condition of physical weakness that seems as if it can never be cured. For others who hear me this day, the stress of daily life leaves you exhausted; and though you’ve consulted physicians, or perhaps despite having gone to multiple counsellors, you are now ready to loudly cry out, “I’ve had enough of brokenness!” There is One Who is passing by even now. And if you can only make your way through the mob crowding about Him you are certain that if you can even just touch His garment, your brokenness will be ended. Reach out now!

Years ago during an evangelistic tour that took me through the southern United States, a regional director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association volunteered to drive me into the Panhandle of Texas to visit with wealthy Christians who were willing to support missionary work in Canada. On that trip, I raised a large amount of money designated to underwrite a major missionary advance within the denomination with which I was then working. Realising that the watch I was then wearing had quit working, that good man purchased a watch for me. Despite the passage of more than forty years, I still wear that watch to this day. I am often wearing it as I speak from this sacred desk.

As we travelled across northern Texas, that man told me of the trials he and his wife had faced. They had been missionaries in Uganda until they fled for their lives after the tyrant Idi Amin had seized power over the nation. They had returned to the United States where he began his work with the BGEA. That work continued for many years as he represented the evangelistic association and provided oversight of the varied activities.

It was at this time that his wife was diagnosed with a dreadful disease. That good man had sought God’s intervention to heal his wife. Some of the most notable pastors in North American had prayed for his wife, and even Billy Graham himself had prayed over her. Despite their prayers and ministrations, her condition only grew more desperate. That man told me how he had felt broken, until they realised that Christ Himself was giving both his wife and him strength, and the strength Christ was giving each of them was sufficient for each day. They could draw on His grace for one day at a time.

Some of you know what it is to be broken, you have felt the hot tears pour down your cheeks as you watch a loved one waste away or as you find yourself helpless in the face of the physical onslaught of a cruel disease. Perhaps the Lord is passing near today, and you are ready to shout out, “Lord, I’ve had enough! Show me mercy!” I encourage you to reach out and touch Him even now as He is near before He passes on. Amen.

I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF MARGINALIZATION — I suspect someone today hears me speak, and that someone feels marginalised by society. You were never one of the jocks who got all the praise during the school assemblies. None of the cheerleaders ever gave you the time of day. Those who were part of the “In Crowd” didn’t even know you existed. Time has passed, and you’re still standing on the fringes while the powerful pass by.

Maybe you were actually once well received in society, but things have changed and you find yourself marginalised. You had dreams of making something of your life, and those dreams which once were foundations of hope, now appear to have crumbled. You thought a university degree would actually give you a measure of acceptance in society. Or you imagined that a successful trade would allow you some stability in the game of life. Perhaps you even thought that joining the church would give you acceptance among your peers. However, despite your efforts to gain acceptance, though those around you know you are there, but they don’t really recognise you. If anything, those around take you for granted. At least, it feels that way most of the time.

You attend a party or a meeting, and you seem always to be standing on the margins. Your voice isn’t really heard, though words are spoken. You have attempted to force yourself into a position where people will actually hear you, but your efforts seem always to fail. You’re discontented with your lot in life because you are not the centre of attention, not the person to whom others instinctively look, and you feel miserable.

There are people here who are always trying to fit in. Despite all your efforts, you never quite make it. During childhood, other kids didn’t want to play with you. During your teen years, you were always a bit of an ugly duckling; you were an outsider that wasn’t really accepted. During adulthood, you know that others take for granted. You’ve had enough of being marginalised! It’s time to stop being marginalised.

This past Christmas, Lynda shared a fascinating story that I’ve never heard before. It was the story of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Neither the song nor the story has anything to do with Christmas, but it does give a measure of hope to those of us who find ourselves marginalised. Here is the story as related by CBC.

“The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began in 1939 with a Jewish Chicago copywriter named Robert May. May worked in the ad department of Montgomery Ward, a department store chain second only to Sears as America’s largest retailer. Every year, Montgomery Ward purchased and gave away free Christmas colouring books, but they decided that year to create their own. They gave the task of writing it to May with the instructions: make it about an animal.”

Robert May’s wife contracted cancer that year; she died only a few months later, he was left to raise their young daughter Barbara alone. Though he was urged to quit work on the book, Mr. May refused.

May invented the story of a little reindeer with a shiny nose. Though the little creature didn’t quite fit it, he was destined for greatness. “When Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer came out at Christmas 1939 … Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies, and only stopped issuing it afterwards because of wartime restrictions on paper. When they resumed in 1946, it was even more popular. For all his efforts, Robert May never received anything more than his salary, but that changed in 1947. Sewell Avery, the head of Montgomery Ward, perhaps moved by the spirit of the holiday, gave all the rights for Rudolph to the copywriter. It was the first time the company had ever done so.

“May's Rudolph story would soon reach legendary status: A songwriter named Johnny Marks married Robert May's sister, Margaret, the same year.

“Marks was born on November 10, 1909, in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., to a secular, Jewish family. He was a decorated World War II veteran who graduated from Colgate University and studied music at Columbia and in Paris. He began writing songs much earlier, however, at the age of 13.

“Marks had first become aware of the story of Rudolph when it was published in 1939 and had begun jotting notes in a notebook he kept for working on songs. The year after his marriage into the May family, he began adding music and quickly felt sure he had a hit. He asked Gene Autry to record it and although Autry did not like the song, his wife did and persuaded him to put it out as a ‘B’ side. The ‘B’ side became the second-biggest selling Christmas song of all time, behind only White Christmas.” [2]

I’m not suggesting that if you just try hard enough, you will one day fit in. Life doesn’t quite work that way. I am telling you, however, on the authority of God’s Word, that in Christ you are a person of worth. The Living God embraces you as His beloved Child because you are born into His Family through the grace of Christ the Lord. What encouragement we receive when we witness God, through His Apostle, telling us, “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” [ROMANS 9:6-8].

What rich encouragement is given to each one who has looked to Christ for salvation as we read what has been written in the Letter to Hebrew Christians. God has said to those who are His children, “It was fitting for Him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For indeed He who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.’ Again He says, ‘I will be confident in Him,’ and again, ‘Here I am, with the children God has given me’” [HEBREWS 2:10-13 NET BIBLE]

Marginalised? Me? No! I am a child of the King! I am redeemed; I have been born from above and I belong to the Kingdom of the True and Living God. I want you to say out loud, “I am somebody! I am redeemed! I am a child of the King! The Living God is my Father!” Say it; say it out loud. Amen!

There are no “nobodies” in God’s Family. Do you recall these words Paul wrote? “Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” [EPHESIANS 2:11-12]. That was our situation. All of us were marginalised. Each of us was relegated to the fringes and looked down on. We were nobodies in the eyes of the world.

I’m so glad that Paul didn’t stop writing at that point. I’m so glad that the Spirit of God was prompting him to give us the full revelation of what God was doing for us. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” [EPHESIANS 2:13-22].

If you are a follower of Christ, you can never say that you are a nobody. You must never allow anyone to look down on you. You must never think of yourself as anyone less than a child of the King. Your position does not require you to abase yourself in the eyes of this dying world; rather, you must see that you are an ambassador of Christ, a spokesman of Heaven itself. You are entrusted with the power of God for His glory and for the good of all mankind. With the Apostle to the Gentiles, we announce to all people, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake [God] made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him [that is, in Christ Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” [2 CORINTHIANS 5:20-21]. That is a message worth proclaiming, and worthy of being proclaimed by those who are twice-born from Heaven. Amen.

I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF IRRELEVANCE — You spend your life doing what is necessary to provide for yourself and to care for your family’s needs. Nevertheless, there are those times that you wonder if you actually matter. There are those times when you question whether your presence actually makes a difference. At such times, you may even imagine that your life is irrelevant. You question what your purpose is in life; you have even despaired at times of ever making a contribution to the society in which you live.

A man may work to provide for necessities for the family, and his wife and children don’t really see him for the man he is—they take him for granted. Yes, I understand that wives also can feel they are taken for granted. The children seemingly see dad as a gigantic pocketbook to give them money so they can get more “things.” Wives see their husbands as a necessary evil to ensure security. We each become wrapped up in the mundane affairs of life and we neglect what is really important. But, how do we turn lose of what has to be done. We labour under the tyranny of the urgent. We are running full tilt just to stay in one place and what is truly essential is neglected.

A wife can take her husband for granted, seeing him as so devoted to work that he fails to see her as a partner in the work of making a life. That same wife imagines that other husbands must surely be different, without realising that her husband may be investing himself in work because of his deep love for her, wanting to provide for her. I’m not excusing anyone for neglecting responsibility to build up his spouse, but I am saying that what we imagine often relegates those we love to a position of irrelevance.

We witnessed a pitiful example of someone taking a spouse for granted in the life of one of our provincial politicians some years past. Gordon Wilson went from being a pig farmer and an adjunct professor at Capilano College to being the leader of the provincial Liberal Party. As a political leader, occupying the lofty position as the head of his party, he began a publicly played out affair with an MLA from Kelowna named Judy Tyabji. When a reporter asked Wilson’s wife Elizabeth her views on the affair, she was clearly embarrassed, responding that she knew nothing of any affair, famously saying, “I’m still doing his laundry.” It was abundantly obvious even to casual observers that Mr. Wilson had reduced his wife and teenage children to a position of irrelevance. [3]

Perhaps you feel that your boss takes you for granted; he is always piling work on you without recognising your contribution to his business. You haven’t had a raise since… Well, you can’t remember your last raise. Despite government interference, the company is prospering, but the prosperity doesn’t seem to trickle down to you despite your work in building the business. Or perhaps your situation is that your employees take you for granted. They seem to think that all you are is a source of a paycheque. They treat their work as a job, failing to see it as an opportunity to build security for themselves and their families. Whether as an employee or as an employer, you feel irrelevant, and you exhaust yourself just so people can treat you as though you were a non-entity. Quitting is not an option, and firing the entire crew is unrealistic. And you come to church fairly bursting because you want to shout out, “I’ve had enough of irrelevance!”

Perhaps we spend too much time trying to make a name for ourselves, neglecting what truly matters. Child of God, lift your eyes and see that you are part of a great eternal company. Indeed, “You have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more. For they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.’ In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I shudder with fear.’ But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does” [HEBREWS 12:18-24 NET BIBLE]. This is your destiny! This is what you as a follower of Christ can anticipate. You are relevant!

Haven’t you yet grasped the power of Jesus’ benediction delivered for you? Has not Jesus our Lord promised, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” [LUKE 6:22-23]? Child of God, know that you are relevant! Your life has meaning and you shall be rewarded with rich and eternal rewards.

I know there are some of you who think that no one hears what you have to say. You speak up in a congregational meeting and the Pastor advises that we need to pause to pray and reconsider what has been said. Others have ideas that appear more readily acceptable to the assembly than are your ideas. You wonder why you bother to speak.

Did it ever occur to you that the assembly is seeking the will of the Lord, and the Spirit of Christ doesn’t always drive us to do what is easiest. He may be sharpening the assembly’s vision. Moreover, your thoughts may be good, but require some maturation before they can be implemented. President Reagan was quoted as saying, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” I’ve witnessed the truth of that statement repeatedly throughout my days of service among the churches of our Lord. Often I have broached an idea, only to see it rejected by the assembly. Yet, within a matter of time, some someone in another meeting would raise the very same concept, and the congregation adopted the idea. What did I care, so long as the cause of Christ was advanced and the people were equipped to continue the work.

Paul was imprisoned and his scope of ministry appeared limited under those such restrictive conditions. Nevertheless, the perspective Paul holds provides a model for you and for me as we serve the Master. The Apostle has written, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” [PHILIPPIANS 1:12-18a].

I urge each of you who are discouraged, thinking you have no relevance either among the saints or those in the world, to quit thinking of your presence as irrelevant. I counsel you to stop thinking that you will just be silent because no one listens to you in any case. Think your best thoughts and share your best ideas. Ensure that you have invested those thoughts and those ideas with prayer, seeking the guidance of the Spirit of Christ as you shape what you will present. Then, speak with boldness as you offer your best in humble anticipation that God will use what you offer to the praise of His glory.

Didn’t God use a common staff to confuse Pharaoh and the band of warlocks, conjurers and occultists gathered about him? Didn’t God use a slick river rock slung out from a shepherd boy’s sling to destroy the giant? God is in the business of confounding those who imagine themselves to be great in this world, so that He receives the glory.

Listen as the Apostle admonishes all who follow the Risen Saviour on this matter. “Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” [1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31].

In Christ, you are not broken. You are not marginalised. Nor are you irrelevant. In Christ, you are a child of the King, an heir of the Son of God, one who is destined to reign with Him eternally. And that should make each follower of Christ rejoice, and determined to serve Him with conviction, until He returns. Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] The Real Story Behind Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,,second%20only%20to%20Sears%20as%20America%E2%80%99s%20largest%20retailer., accessed 28 December 2021

[3] For a more thorough examination of these events, see Jennifer Hunter, “Wilson Joins BC’s NDP,” The Canadian Encyclopedia,, accessed 18 December 2021