I’m traumatized. God directed me into the dark. I trusted Him and I took His hand. He led me to a place I didn’t know, to people with their problems and their pain. His love stretches to the ends of the earth and in that end His servants toil, sharing the Gospel for His glory. So I’m a soldier. I’m a fighter. I’m traumatized.
There is a trauma in ministry that is rarely spoken of. Perhaps it is an embarrassment to some. Perhaps it is misunderstood. For many, it marks failure and signifies the beginning of the end. Ministry to the Lord has stripped me of comforts and turned my life upside down. In the evening hours I reach for a pillow but I am hemmed in by sadness, sickness and loss. Not mine. Theirs. The ones I came to love. Their pain hangs across my shoulders like dead weight, like a waterlogged carpet. In our meal time I stretch my hand across our shiny table to a pan full of food but I find hunger and my hand is begging. Not mine, though. Theirs. The ones I came to love.
In this ministry of love I am caught up in the whirlwind of wanting but not having, hurting but not healing. Their pain is my pain. Their trouble is my trouble. When I look at my ankle I see the foot of James. His was crushed by a father with a hammer in a drunken rage. When I look at my children I see them wandering the streets, sifting through piles of fly covered refuse in search of anything with value. When I bathe in the comfort of my home I’m covered in street runoff that provides the only water source for whole communities in our city. Their pain is my pain. It’s the trauma of ministry.
In the 3 years of Jesus’ ministry he saw and heard much. In his humanity, surely he felt the trauma. Countless numbers of sick and diseased people flocked to the face of Jesus for help. Imagine what he thought as he laid down each night; their desperate faces flashing in his eyes. He felt the pain of being hated. He felt the deep distress of confrontation and public hostility. He carried the enormous burden of love and compassion toward a people wallowing in a broken world that groans for deliverance. Jesus endured the trauma of ministry.
I saw a truck on the side of the road. The cab was collapsed from a head on collision. A short distance further was a second truck with a similar appearance. These two giant forces hit each other so hard that they were both crushed. Trauma goes both ways. Yes, there is a trauma in ministry. The weight of the broken world hits the minister so hard that pieces shift and change and break. However, the trauma goes both ways. The weight of the Gospel hits the broken world so hard that pieces shift and change and break. This collision sparks with light and draws the eyes and turns the necks of everyone who is near.
So, I’m traumatized. This ministry has hit so hard that my pieces are broken. My fabric is torn. In my prayer I ask God to pick my head up out of the pain around me. He says, “No. Keep your head down. Stay in it. I’ll hold you up. Let’s love them together.” To God be the glory. Great things He has done.