It is easy to focus on the bad things that happen on the sidewalk. We can focus on the pro-abortion crowd and become very discouraged. We can notice everything they do that shocks us or that makes us shake our heads in despair and dismay. We tend to talk about that with each other, incredulous that people could believe what they believe or be as silly or ignorant as they are. It can quickly devolve into a depressive discussion about how difficult it is to deal with them.
Sometimes, we feel justified in doing this. After all, we are enduring so much adversity to serve the Lord. We need to rely on each other to comfort and understand our struggles. We need the empathy and compassion our fellow laborers can offer, right?
It is true we need each other’s support; however, there is danger in grumbling, even about legitimate things. I suggest that before we grumble we ask ourselves an important question:
Ask yourself: ‘Is my complaining God-honoring?’
I would challenge you that in most cases, complaining about the opposition or worse, name calling of the opposition, will not change anything in a positive God-honoring way. In fact, it will likely bring the opposite result. In most cases – and perhaps all cases – grumbling is destructive. Of course, the Bible is clear that we are to do all things without complaining and grumbling (Philippians 2:14).
The ongoing struggles that Moses endured with the people he was leading across the wilderness kept coming back to their grumbling spirit. They grumbled about everything. Worried about starving and God sent Manna. Sick of Manna and God sent quail. Too much quail so it stuck in their teeth.
Know the difference between grumbling and legit grievances
You will encounter issues on the sidewalk that require you to talk to others. Abusive or aggressive behavior by the pro-abortion crowd should be brought to the attention of leaders and the police. Concerns of sex trafficking or domestic abuse victims should be brought to police and local trained authorities. These examples require action and should be exposed.
Most of us, me included), though, grumble about how awful the pro-abortion people behave. We gather together and commiserate. We grumble, and sometimes we do it when we should be praying or calling out to women intent on killing their children. We sometimes think it is OK to call them idiots or other names behind their backs because they really are so vile.
I am pretty sure this is not only grumbling, but gossip and hatred.
I am not immune from it. I am paying close attention to the advice I am giving you. Grumbling is not good. It can harm the team. It should be stopped.
What is the solution?
Something happened on the sidewalk recently that reminded me of a much better way to deal with the difficulties that we face than grumbling about them. We had endured a very trying day with a pro-abortion crowd who used vile language and mocking us inches from our faces. Some were screaming at us, some laughing at us, some taunting us, some lying about us and our ministry. We were all feeling weary. As the morning shift ended, I offered to say our group prayer. One of the most difficult of the pro-abortion people came over right away, and asked if she could join us. She said it in a very mocking tone and it was abundantly clear she really had no intention of joining our prayer.
So I began praying out loud, with our team gathered in a circle. As always, I tried to keep my focus on God. I was determined to stick to my message no matter what the distractions were around me. I truly needed God at that moment, as we all do at every moment, but it was particularly necessary given the onslaught of the day.
I was intent on praying not only for that particular pro-abortion person but all the other ones, as well. I prayed for all the moms in the abortion center right then and prayed that God would convict their spirit to leave that place. I prayed for the abortionist that he would finally recognize the horror of what he was doing. I prayed for all of our volunteers and thanked God for them and prayed that all the attacks of the evil spirits would be dusted off and left behind as we all ventured homeward.
While I was praying, I was aware that the pro-abortion young lady was singing (inches from my ear) but I was very focused on my prayer and determined she would not distract me from it. So I did not hear the words of her song. Halfway through my prayer, I noticed that she left but I tried not to lose my focus on God. I continued my prayer all the way to the AMEN.
Focus solely on the Lord for strength, encouragement
Later when our team lead wrote the report for all of our team members and ministry members to read on our private Facebook group, she mentioned that the pro-abortion person was singing “hail Satan” while I was praying. I was shocked. Not that she would sing those words … that was not shocking at all. I was incredulous that I had had no idea that is what she was saying. My focus was so intent on God that I did not hear those vile words and they did not affect me at all.
This is the crux of my message today. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, we are strengthened and encouraged and enabled to focus on what God has called us to do. When we’re fighting for the lives of those unborn babies at the abortion center, we cannot and should not be focused on all the terrible things that we can find fault with in the pro-abortion crowd or in the families plotting to kill their children. We have to keep our focus on the One who has called us to that place and will enable us to serve Him in a way that advances His Kingdom and glorifies His holy name. When we do that, the slings and arrows of the evil one glance right off of our armor which is the armor of God.
Acts 16 reminds us perfectly of this truth. Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison because they had thrown the demons out of a slave girl who was paid for divination and made her master good money. He was furious and called the authorities, with trumped up charges, “…These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” (Acts 16:20-21)
The charges were false, and the result of the angry man who saw he could no longer profit from the fortune telling skills of his slave. Ridiculous as the accusation was, the crowd and authorities united in persecuting Paul and Silas (I would had have a grumblefest if I were them!). (Acts 16:22-30)
In the passage linked above, Paul and Silas had EVERY RIGHT to grumble. They were enduring terrible persecution on ridiculous premises. Yet if they did grumble, it is not recorded. What they did instead is the key message in how we need to respond to the temptation to grumble: they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God.
They did not grumble about the wrongs that had been done to them, or the people who had brought about their imprisonment. They focused on God, with gratitude and praise.
Your co-laborers can comfort and support with wisdom
Now let me tell you what sparked this article. I had a meeting with Daniel Parks, Love Life Director of Missionaries, right after that wearying morning. He asked how I was doing, and I told him (grumbled) about the terrible pro-abortion crowd that day. Here was Daniel’s reponse:
“I’m glad you got to have that experience.”
That stopped my grumbling in its tracks. Seriously. After a pause, I said, “Yes, thank God for the privilege of suffering in my service to Him.”
Bless every one of you and thank you so much for your suffering for Him in serving in this great battle. It is a battle that is so worthy to be fought and I could not fight it with better soldiers.