Serving Christ When Everyone Needs You – Ann Swindell

I stood in front of the kitchen window with tears threatening, breathing a quick prayer for peace and help.

It was a normal day at home, and my kids weren’t being particularly difficult—they were just being kids. But as I unloaded the dishwasher, I mentally ticked through what to make for dinner, the editing project hanging over my head, my daughter’s school project, the taxes that needed to be filed, and the friend who needed a listening ear—and I pressed my palm to my eyes to stop the tears. I had started to feel resentful about all of the responsibilities I carried, although I couldn’t pinpoint why.

My first thought was to chastise myself. What is wrong with you? You have a good life, Ann.

It was true: nothing big was wrong. But a hundred smaller things were difficult in the midst of quarantine. My work was intact, but finding reliable childcare was nearly impossible. My ministry to others as a pastor’s wife was needed but often done from a distance. And because of school closures, we’d decided to homeschool.

I felt like I was serving in a hundred ways but missing out on many of the gifts of relationship and normal life that helped make that service joyful and rewarding. It all felt like too much, and those tears at the kitchen window revealed both my frustration and exhaustion.

My circumstances and responsibilities wouldn’t change anytime soon. But my heart could change, and it needed to.

Here’s how the Lord has used this season of life to point my heart toward serving Christ alone.

1. Remember that Christ is the primary person we serve—and he will reward us.

No matter what we are doing, Scripture calls us to remember—and rejoice in—the truth that all of our work and service is ultimately for Christ. The apostle Paul knew this and referred to himself as a servant of the Lord throughout Scripture, understanding that he was called to serve, follow, and obey Christ above all others (e.g., Phil. 1:1; 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:1).

This is why we can serve others, regardless of their response to us: we are not ultimately serving them.

This is why we can serve others, regardless of their response to us: we are not ultimately serving them. As children of God, we can trust he sees us and understands every responsibility we carry. We can work for his pleasure and praise, knowing that when we work with a willing heart, he will not fail to reward us for it: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23–24).

2. Recognize that every season has challenges, and satisfaction comes in Christ alone.

While this time in history has been unique, the reality is that no season of life is constantly easy. Our days are full of trial and trouble (John 16:33), and to assume otherwise is to set ourselves up for unnecessary frustration. We need not be pessimists, but we need to accept that life on this earth is not meant to satisfy us—and it never will. Rather, it is meant to point us to Christ, who satisfies our every longing with himself.

While this time in history has been unique, the reality is that no season of life is constantly easy.

So when our desires for friendship and relational connection go unmet in this season, or when the costs of our work seem to far outweigh the benefits, or when the needs of our children seem to dominate every part of our days, we can turn to God and ask him to meet our needs.

The season may remain difficult, but Jesus quenches every thirst and meets every hunger in our souls: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). As we come to him, he will satisfy us with himself.

3. Be thankful, for this is a pathway to peace.

Yes, this season in history is full of challenges, but we can still choose to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness in the midst of the trials. When our job is difficult, we can choose to be grateful that we have profitable work. When we are struggling to help our children log on to a virtual class, we can choose to be thankful for education—even if it’s not what we hoped for. When we feel lonely and isolated, we can thank God for the presence of his Holy Spirit, assuring us that we are never alone.

If we feel overwhelmed or frustrated with the responsibilities we must carry in this season, we have the choice to turn our hearts toward Christ and recognize that everything we have is a gift from him (James 1:17; Rom. 11:36).

Because Christ is with us, we can confidently choose to rejoice in him and be thankful for him.

Because Christ is with us, we can confidently choose to rejoice in him and be thankful for him, even if it seems like there is nothing else to be thankful for. And in our gratitude, we will experience his peace (Phil. 4:4-7).

Thankfulness paves the road of peace ahead of us, squelching anxiety and leading our hearts to rest in the Lord. Whatever responsibilities we carry in this season, let’s rejoice in Christ, knowing that he will reward us, he will meet our needs, and we can walk in peace as we walk in him.

Read More
The Gospel Coalition