In this past week, the best and worst parts of pastoring have collided for me. Usually these things come with some distance between them, which makes it easier to handle emotionally and physically. But not this week.

BEST: To see a person respond to God’s call

We have participated in a friend’s spiritual journey for awhile now. God has been asking him to move into ministry, but he has been hesitant for several reasons (with which we all struggle). Yet, he has finally decided to do it. As scary as it is, he is responding to God’s call. With the faith of Abraham, he is getting up and moving without knowing really where God is leading him, but knowing that following God can never be wrong.

WORST: Hurting with those you love

One of the greatest things about pastoring is how much I have come to love people. It’s a kind of love I never imagined having for so many people. And it deepens day-by-day. But as I love people and walk through life with them, I begin to experience what they experience. Recently, two people whom I love have experienced tremendous heartache and brokenness. I was surprised to find that I, too, am gravely heartbroken. It’s as if I myself have experienced what they have experienced. This is one of the most terrible parts of pastoring — watching those I love experience tremendous pain and grief, and experiencing that myself.

WORST: Losing those you have ministered with

On Monday, a friend from law school, who helped lead our Christian fellowship group with Niki, was in a terrible car wreck that has left him in critical care. Yesterday we got word that he was nearing the end — he had taken a terrible turn for the worse and his vital signs were declining. I was so shaken. He was such a powerful witness for Jesus, and he ministered — just by who he was — to so many people at law school. There was nothing we could do but pray. Only God could save him. So we did — several friends from law school prayed throughout the day. We needed a miracle. The word from the doctors was so bad; I braced myself for the worst and struggled to believe the Good News: “Oh death, where is your sting?” “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

BEST: Witnessing a Miracle

Late yesterday afternoon, after Christians across the nation prayed together for our friend, he made a sudden and inexplicable turn for the better. All of a sudden, his vitals picked up, his injuries became less severe, and everyone — from the doctors to his family members — now expect him to live without any permanent damage. The officer at the scene of the wreck said it is a miracle our friend even survived the crash. It astounds the mind to know that our friend will likely pull through all of this without any lasting injury. While our friend could still take a turn for the worse, I believe God is sustaining him in direct response to our prayers. We will keep praying, and continue to commit him to the Lord’s care.