“He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Quite often we run into someone who seems to have everything together—you know, the one without any problems who’s on top of the world. When asked how they’re doing, the answer is always the same, “Great! Couldn’t be any better,” and perhaps we’re left thinking, Wow, what am I doing wrong? Everything isn’t going great for me. As a matter of fact, my whole world is falling apart! I’ve left a trail of tears behind me for a long time now.
However, how many times have we found out later that the person who claimed to be doing so well really wasn’t? Instead of living by faith, they were only “speaking a positive confession.”
A Tragic Lesson
American history hands us a lesson that is so shameful we can barely whisper its truth. It’s the story of how 46,000 Native Americans were forcibly removed from their land in the 1830s and driven 2,200 miles by foot across nine states to reservations in Oklahoma. Four thousand Cherokee lives were needlessly lost on these journeys. These souls perished from illness, starvation, and broken spirits along what is now known as The Trail of Tears.
Satan has designed another Trail of Tears and laid it out for every child of God—a forced spiritual march designed to cause physical and mental suffering, pain, and disease along the way. At times we will find ourselves hurting while someone else shouts Hallelujah! But God’s Word tells us that all who live godly lives in Christ will, at some time, suffer persecution.
3ABN pastoral ministries department is not the easiest place to work, mostly because of the phone calls we receive each day. In a recent staff meeting we calculated that about 10 percent of our calls were praise reports, 15 percent were regular callers, and the remaining 75 percent were distressed callers from all over the world! At times each of us have wished we could melt ourselves through the phone lines into their homes, just hold them and let them know that we care.
Have you ever needed to just be held and have someone tell you they care? Our pastoral staff tells callers unashamedly that we care—and so does Jesus.
We Can’t Take It
For the past five years I’ve had the privilege of managing 3ABN’s Prayer Warriors by sending out our prayer lists all over the world. On more than one occasion, new applicants have e-mailed me and said, “Pastor Hal, I am truly sorry but I am going to have to stop being a prayer warrior. These prayer requests are so heart-rending that I can’t take it. How do you, and the other pastors at 3ABN, do this on a daily basis?”
I always e-mail them back and tell them that I understand, and that it’s okay. Then I tell them that we can’t take it, either. We can’t carry it; we can’t bear it, so we lay these precious requests at the feet of Jesus, our burden-bearer.
Each week we send out hundreds of prayer requests. The e-mails always start out with praise reports, but quickly move into a long list of broken hearts, broken marriages, broken bodies, and shattered lives—a true Trail of Tears! However, in my desk I have a priceless file full of e-mails and letters from people who have been touched and healed by the God we serve—and by the effectual, fervent prayers of His prayer warriors all over the world.
So, the next time you hear someone “speaking by the power of positive thinking” that they’re doing great, remember this Trail of Tears truth: all of us are either coming out of a problem, are walking through a problem, or are headed for a problem.
And here is a greater truth: Jesus has already blazed the trail for us, and is walking right along beside us!
Pastor Hal Steenson