When the Calling is Painful

By Erin Ashley, Life.Church Yukon

God called my family to foster homeless children from within our state. The calling felt huge, and we had high hopes and expectations. I was excited for how rewarding this would be for us, but I immediately placed limitations on this calling, thinking how much I would love to have adorable little children in our home and be a small part of their success story.

At first, we had exactly what we had imagined – adorable little kids to love and play with. However, shortly into our journey, we were asked to take an older child for six weeks while his adoption was finalized . Red flags went up immediately. We knew this would be challenging, but reluctantly agreed to give in for just six weeks. Again, I placed limitations on God’s calling–this would be for only six weeks. Anyone can handle something for six weeks, right?

The first few weeks were easy, but then we began to encounter issues that we had no idea how to handle. We felt beaten down with no idea where to turn. I questioned God and wondered why this turmoil was necessary. Why am I to a point where I hate being in my own house? Why am I mad at my husband when he is going through the same troubles I am? We were quick to ask “why,” but I’m convinced we didn’t want to hear God’s answer to that question. I know I didn’t. This calling was way harder than we could have imagined.

Thankfully, some people in our lives really stepped up, including two different LifeGroups we belonged to. They provided emotional support, prayer, and financial help. The importance of LifeGroup was obvious in our story from start to finish, and we would not have survived without them. They lived out Galatians 6:2…Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ… (NIV).

Looking back, I have learned much about God’s calling. I was in church one morning and the band was playing, “Through it all, my eyes are on you, through it all, it is well with my soul.” I sobbed (big ugly tears, I might add) but I finally realized through this entire journey, I had been doing things my way. I had shut God out and tried to control everything. At my breaking point, I finally understood I needed to let go and trust God. I decided that whatever happens, “It is well,” and I will glorify God through it.

Since surrendering my will to His, I’ve discovered many things about God and His plan for our lives as Christians:

God will test your boundaries: When you place limitations on God’s calling, those boundaries are going to be crossed. I agreed to offer foster care for just cute, little children. Then I agreed to an older child for just 6 weeks. Past your personal limitations is where God will test your faith in Him and His calling. Accepting His calling gives Him permission to push us out of our comfort zones.

Calling can be for personal growth: As I look over the journey we went through, it is full of tears and trials, but that teen’s life was changed and a seed was planted. More so, my life was changed. We went into foster care thinking we were going to change lives. We didn’t realize our lives would experience the most drastic change. We often look at something God has called us to and assume it is about serving another person or population. Sometimes, the calling and the journey are also for self-exploration and our own faith-building. The Bible tells us…When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know your that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow… James 1:2-3 NLT .

Journeys are not always joyful: In this world you will have trouble. But take Heart! I have overcome the world… John 16:33 NIV God doesn’t say in this world it will be easy and you will have no pain. Sometimes, the hardest part about being a Christ-follower is accepting it will be difficult. It will be worth it. Take heart, God always has our best interests in mind. He even tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:17, Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Not only that, there is “glory on the other side that vastly outweighs our troubles and will last forever.” God wants us to grow and learn and He has sweet glory waiting for us that will never end.

Attitude can dictate the direction of the journey: I realized my attitude and unwillingness to embrace the journey God had for me was my biggest problem. Jesus says , The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy… John 10:10 NIV. The devil thrives when we’re unhappy, vulnerable, and unsatisfied. Our attitude can completely change the course of our problems. Stop blaming others and take responsibility. Stop whining and change your actions. Your situation may stink, but your attitude doesn’t have to.

Seek Him through the trials: It is interesting how, when we face a huge trial or life gets crazy, the first thing to go is our personal time with Jesus. During the moments when we need God the most, we tend to walk away. Instead of holding on tighter to God’s word or surrounding ourselves with others reaching towards His kingdom, we unintentionally tackle our trials on our own. No matter your trial– marriage, kids, money, an over-committed schedule, loneliness, or depression,– don’t walk away from Jesus. Get closer. Serve more. Read more. Pray more. Your trial isn’t going to get any better by taking God out of the center of it.

Embrace the calling and walk side by side with God as you internalize the words of the familiar chorus, “Through it all, it is well.” Then, you’ll be prepared to fully accept the greater reward.

Erin Ashley
Life.Church Yukon
LifeKids Coach and LifeGroup Leader

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