By Femi Aribisala
Those who minister to God lament over the things that break God’s heart. We grieve over the afflictions of Joseph. (Amos 6:6). We commiserate with a distressed Father who daily sees His beloved children going astray, taking the wrong decisions, and falling into the traps of the enemy. We feel God’s pain and anguish at the sinful condition of the world.
The world God created is broken. The people He loves have gone astray. Therefore: “Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; wail, you who minister before the altar; come, lie all night in sackcloth, you who minister to my God.” (Joel 1:13).
“Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say,” Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach.” (Joel 1:17). “Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people.” (Joel 2:18).
It also means sitting sometimes quietly in God’s presence, as we share in His grief. This is what the friends of Job did: “They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job 2:13).
Entering into God’s pain
God created man in His image and likeness. He did this because He wants us to be exactly like His Son Jesus. Paul says: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29). For this reason, we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God wants us to share in His divine nature. That is one of the reasons why He required Abraham to offer up his son, Isaac. God planned to offer up Jesus, His only begotten Son, for our sins. Therefore, He asked Abraham to offer up Isaac, his only begotten son, for God. He wanted to see if Abraham would agree to go through the same ordeal that He would go through in offering up His Son Jesus for the sins of the world.
By agreeing to sacrifice his son, Abraham ministered to God. Heaven is designed for those who are prepared to be of the same mind in the Lord. Accordingly, Paul says: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).
Fellowship of sufferings
Paul prayed concerning Jesus: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10).
God wants those who minister to Him to be like Jesus; men and women of sufferings and sorrow, acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3). God appeared to Ezekiel, gave him a book, and told him to eat it. The book was full of lamentations, mourning, and woe. (Ezekiel 2:9-10). God wanted Ezekiel to identify fully with his feelings of distress before going to preach to Israel. Similarly, Jesus redeemed mankind in the travail of His soul. Isaiah 53:11).
God told Elijah that he had prepared a widow in Zarephath to feed him. But when he got to her, he discovered that she had no food. So, how had God prepared her? He prepared her through pain and suffering. He prepared her through the loss of her husband and in famine. If we have not been prepared through pain and suffering, losses, and sorrow, then we cannot effectively minister to God.
Hannah was a woman of sorrow over her barrenness. She ministered to God in her distress and God used her sorrows to produce Samuel, a mighty prophet in Israel. God was grieved over the sins of Eli the High Priest and his sons. He needed to share his grief so He turned to a woman of prayer called Hannah. He shut her womb and brought reproach on her from her rival Peninnah. So, Hannah was in great distress but her distress was evidence of God’s love.
In her distress, Hannah ministered to God in prayer. God wanted a mighty prophet as a saviour of Israel: Hannah wanted a son. So, God took Hannah to the place where, in her distress, she struck a tremendous bargain with God. If God were to give Hannah a son, Hannah would give him up for the Lord. Thereby, Hannah entered into God’s ordeal of giving up His only begotten Son for the salvation of the world.
Atonement with God
To minister to God, we have to be one with Him. We have to feel through His heart and see through His eyes. Therefore, God takes us through pain, losses, and adversities because He wants us to identify with Him.
God shares in our affliction: “In all (our) affliction He (is) afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saves (us).” (Isaiah 63:9). Jesus did likewise: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).
In the same manner, God wants his ministers to share in His afflictions. God suffers from unrequited love. He loves us but we don’t love Him back. He loves us but we love money life and women. We cannot understand the depth of God’s pain at the unfaithfulness of men until we have also experienced the unfaithfulness of our loved ones.
So, out of God’s love, He takes us through the experience of an unfaithful husband or an unfaithful wife. Accordingly, God said to Hosea: “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” (Hosea 3:1).
When we share in God’s pain, He then empowers us to share in the pain of others. You cannot operate in a healing ministry if you do not minister to God.
Expressing God’s anguish
God does not just give us His Spirit and himself, He also wants to give us His life and His experiences. God became the son of man so that man can become the son of God. When God became a man, He expressed our anguish and pain: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46/ Psalm 22:1). Now that man has become a son of God, we should express God’s anguish and pain to God.
Ministering to God means listening to God’s heartbeat. We are now the body of Christ, which means we are now part of God. Therefore, we must act accordingly by taking up God’s yoke and by bearing His burdens.
When tragedies occur as is happening right now with this coronavirus pandemic, the first thing we need to do is minister to God. If people are dying, you can be sure God is hurting: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).