HOUGHTON, MI – There's nothing greater than times of reflection. Times where you can stop the pace of life for a moment! I am the Pastor of a young and growing church in Houghton. My wife and I have been a part of this church over fourteen years and on staff nine years. With every thought of thankfulness, there's a thought of triumph. Times where we have overcome great difficulty, times where we pushed passed the noise of life and ministry and times where we stayed the course regardless of what's been thrown at us. There's a great misconception in the church today about the lives of their leaders, and it's this, that the Pastor and his wife virtually suffer very little. It's actually quite the opposite. In fact, most leaders suffer quite a bit. It's God’s way of refining us and preparing us. This idea of thankfulness never reveals itself unless there's been problems, different life struggles, hurdles to overcome. This last year, our family has endured many trials, many obstacles. Our oldest son, Caden wrestled with a rare blood disease most of last summer and fall. He spent over a month in the hospital dealing with treatments, six months of being very ill. Not to mention, I have wrestled with my own illness for the last sixteen months, putting me in the hospital multiple times for multiple surgeries. Meanwhile, our church was building a large addition to house 100 more on Sunday mornings. It's been quite the year.
We never stopped! We never looked back. We kept going forward. The valleys teach us a spirit of thankfulness. The hardships and times of great trials and suffering teach us to be thankful for times of peace and times of growth. The darkness teaches us to appreciate the light. This time last year with our son was still very sick, and me ill, not to mention, we just completed the building project, we were unsure what God was going to do. Today, I am thankful that the Good Shepherd not only took care of my son, but he healed my son. I am thankful that the Great I Am, not only encouraged me through the valley, but He's led me out of the valley. I am thankful that God used this season to grow us and grow our church. We averaged 109 a year ago and now we are averaging 145 each Sunday. Sometimes, 150 plus. Only God does stuff like that. We've led 6 to Christ this summer, and have baptized 25 new converts this year. Despite the seasons of darkness, God gives us seasons of thankfulness. Our story is not unique. We all go through such things, and come through stronger and more thankful than where we started. But we must look to God through both seasons. Ephesians 3:20 says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pastor David A. Whitaker, wife Gillian. Children, Caden, (9) Riann (7) and Kiptyn. (3) We've been married 11 years and have served on staff at Houghton Baptist Church for the last 9 years. God has called us to reach as many for Christ as humanly possible. We have much work to do!