When you go with someone through adversity, you really get a chance to see what they're made of. One time I heard a sermon where the pastor said something to the effect of "Going through trials is like getting squeezed, and your response shows everyone what's inside of you."
I hate that Jeff has had such a frustrating year. I hate that he is still looking for a job, but right now is not having any success. I ache that he is not able to do all that he dreams of doing, but instead is stuck at home, reading and studying and taking care of Judah when I work.
But I am seeing more and more of what's inside him - and I love it. Even though Jeff is no longer allowed to preach at our church, he is still finding ways to serve it. Since we've been having lots of fill-in preachers over the last few months, Jeff has been serving a sort of a worship leader/elder who leads the initial part of the service like the call to worship, pastoral prayer, and congregational singing. He doesn't do this with any hint of bitterness, but joyfully injects small tidbits of teaching that are incredibly encouraging. I am again and again reminded of what an excellent teacher and preacher he is and know that one day a church is really going to benefit from his skills.
Today, too, as he was making announcements he asked our congregation to pray for the church's pastoral search. He talked about how we are getting applications and are actively seeking a man to lead the church. He didn't make these statements with any hint of complaining or editorializing about why that person can't be him.
I think back to when we first found out he wouldn't be licensed. If he had desired, he could have easily campaigned to have the church leave the denomination and join another. But he didn't. He graciously submitted to the decision. Even when those at our church were heartbroken, he was able to encourage them and praise the process he had just gone through. And he has continued to submit, even though the decision is one he doesn't personally agree with.
Even though I hate what he has had to go through, I have loved seeing how he responds.
I found a great one.