I interviewed Trevin Wax recently. I finished by asking him what’s encouraging him, and I was struck by his answer.
“One of the things that is most encouraging to me is that there’s a lot of resilience among Bible-believing Christians,” he said. “I’m encouraged when I see that when I see faithful people of God doing what the faithful people of God had been called to do even when the circumstances have been so challenging.”
Nobody could have predicted that we would spend almost a year unable to meet in the ordinary way. It’s been a difficult year, and it’s not over yet. Many of us are tired.
And yet what Wax says is true: many have stayed faithful. Most churches have lost people at the periphery, but have been able to maintain their core, and for that I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for pastors who have battled their own discouragement and stayed faithful, learning new technology skills when necessary, or holding extra meetings to stay under limits set for public gathering.
I’m encouraged by seeing pastors pivot. I love that a church in Toronto would go outside at the end of the service, even when it was cold, and sing at the top of their voices when they were allowed to do so under provincial regulations.
I’m encouraged by those who hold strong views on secondary and tertiary issues to do with the pandemic, and yet remain committed to putting up with those who disagree.
I’m also grateful for the ways that our people in our congregations have stepped up. Most churches I know have found that giving has not dropped substantially, and that many continue to stay connected and serve. We’re facing a stress test, and many of our people are passing.
In all of the discouragement, it’s crucial that we remain encouraged by the everyday faithfulness of God’s people. Remembering the resilience of God’s people encourages me and helps to keep me going.
The Apostle Paul never seemed to waste an opportunity to give thanks to God for the people he was called to serve. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” he wrote to the Philippian church (Philippians 1:3–4). Even in writing a church in crisis, Paul began with thanks (1 Corinthians 1:4-9). You could write a book about all the ways that Paul expressed thanks for God’s people.
Paul was able to spot God at work among the people he served. Even when they let him down, he was able to see who they were in Christ and give thanks for them.
One of the best and most helpful things a pastor can do is to give thanks for his people. Not only is it right, but it’s good for the pastor’s soul, and it’s good for the people.
Let’s follow Paul’s example by noticing the resilience among God’s people, and taking care to thank God for this blessing, and letting the resilient disciples know that we give thanks for God’s work within them. And let’s not forget to encourage resilient pastors who continue to serve, and to let them know we’re praying for them too.