Lost causes (in ministry)

Lost causes. Do you know any? I am sure you do. In fact, if you were to pause right now and think about the ministers that you have known, you could probably identify several that have gotten shipwrecked in their ministries, their personal lives, and even their faith. Some of them have made varying levels of recovery, while others of them have not. They appear to be lost causes. They are not only disillusioned with ministry, but many of them are disillusioned with God, and for them, the question is not, “What does God have for me next?” but rather, “Does God have anything for me at all?”

Although I am not Catholic, I like St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate situations and lost causes. Sometimes, I even wear a St. Jude pendant to remind myself that God is famous for reversing lost causes.

Hasn’t He done that for you? Most of us do not need to look any further than our own histories to believe that God can find what is lost. And most of us know that the Apostle Paul was not alone in claiming the title “chief of sinners”. Many of us own that title too.

In the rare event that our own story would not qualify as a desperate case or a lost cause, certainly even the quickest perusal of Scripture shows that God delights in making lost causes His causes. When God has His way in a life, prisoners get promoted, persecutors become preachers, adulterers write Holy Scriptures, violent men model gentleness, and hopelessness becomes a platform for new beginnings.

Let’s take up the case for our brothers and sisters who appear to be lost causes. Sometimes people wounded them, and that wounding contributed to their demise. At other times, they were the ones who hurt others, and now they bear the guilt of misusing a sacred office. Regardless, let’s pray for them, championing their cause before heaven, and trusting that God can bring conviction and repentance as well as healing and restoration. Let’s consider going to them at the right time like Ananias did with Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:17 where it says, “Placing his hands on Saul, Ananias said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord…has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” Verse 18 says, “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.” (emphasis added)

Ananias was a St. Jude for Saul’s lost cause. Perhaps God wants us to be one too.

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