People close to me know that I am not a handy person. I am not someone you would call to fix things. Yet in my five years as a pastor, I have learned a few things about construction. One of the things I learned was how to use rebar. If you put rebar down before pouring concrete, the finished product will be a lot stronger than if it did not have the rebar support.
In my life, the last three months of 2019 was the start of a long and difficult road into 2020. During this time, I was struggling to finish my classes for ordination. I can’t express enough how much I do not like school. In addition, the stress from working as a bi-vocational pastor, other personal stress, and family stress led to a diagnosis of depression in October of 2019.
For three months, I thought I was doing a good job of putting on an act that I was fine when in reality I was not. During the week of Christmas in 2019, my sister-in-law saw straight through the act and told me that my medicine was not working. She really helped me to see that what I had been doing was not working—I needed to try something else. In the words of one of my friends, “I needed to let go and let God.”
In January 2020, Psalm 139:23-24 became my prayer. God started to tear down my spiritual foundation. I did not know why—I thought it was a good, solid spiritual foundation. But I trusted God, knowing that His way was better than my way.
God showed me that my spiritual foundation was not solid enough.
I had a good spiritual concrete pad, but I needed something a lot stronger. God set up a much deeper spiritual concrete pad with a lot of rebar.
Despite all the challenges I had never before experienced, I was growing spiritually by leaps and bounds. I have never been tempted and tested so much in my life. I have never gone through so many trials and tribulations. So it was difficult to go through so many terrible things yet amazing to grow closer to God.
Just this month, God told me He knew the challenges 2020 would bring, and He knew that the spiritual foundation I had in 2019 was not strong enough to endure them. If God had not torn down my old spiritual foundation and replaced it with a much stronger one, I do not know if I would still be a pastor today.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Thanks be to God!
Kevin Sprague is senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Bamberg, South Carolina.
Please note: This article was originally published in 2021. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.