Missions is Wrestling with Darkness

Originally written December 12, 2021

As a child growing up I used to believe that missionaries were super-spiritual individuals who never had a bad day. While it’s true those called to missions have more endurance or strength from the Lord, they still have bad days.

I will never forget how the Lord taught me that lesson…

Two weeks after arriving in Melbourne Australia as a full-time. Missionary I closed the door to my room, and with tears streaming down my face, asked God why he had brought me there. Culture shock and homesickness among other things had resulted in a little bit of self-pity (okay a lot of self-pity!)

Over time I learned that this kind of discouragement is normal. In fact, it’s one of Satan’s most powerful attacks on those in ministry.

The thing about “darkness” (my personal term for discouragement or depression on bad days) is it can come out of nowhere. Twice since November a slight setback has triggered some serious darkness for me.

Thankfully even though I cannot always see the darkness coming, by God’s grace, I can be ready for it.

My first response to darkness is a spiritual one since I’m often focused on circumstances instead of God. As Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones says, we must “preach the Gospel to ourselves” in times of spiritual depression. In other words, we remind ourselves of Scriptural truth.

Here are a few truths I’ve found useful while wrestling with darkness.

  1. Faithfulness (consistency) is more important to God than success (always winning)
  2. God reveals my weaknesses (things I need to work on) so that I can turn to Him in repentance
  3. I never have to earn the love of God
  4. God will NEVER leave me
  5. And as Jeremiah says God’s mercy is “new every morning” so instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should try again in God’s strength.

The Second response to darkness is physical since discouragement or depression comes when I’m weak physically. This means after getting my eyes on God.

  1. I take a nap
  2. I eat a healthy meal
  3. I drink a cup of coffee
  4. And I take a long walk

My final response to darkness is social since Satan loves to isolate us with depression saying “your the only one who feels like this.”

  1. My social response begins with a chat, call, or video chat with my parents
  2. Going out and doing something fun with friends
  3. And confiding personally with a trusted mentor

These responses aren’t perfect, but honestly they aren’t supposed to be. The important thing is having healthy habits in place that respond to the dark days.

Sadly I cannot always control when the darkness comes. But I can make sure it draws me closer to God.

2 responses to “Missions is Wrestling with Darkness”

  1. You don’t have to travel far from home to experience times like this. Yet, everywhere we go and every time we need Him, the Lord is near. His grace is still sufficient, as you have said. God bless you, John.


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