Tears for Joy

Wow, my first article for the church newsletter since I was brought on as a pastoral intern here at Chisholm Baptist Church. Unfortunately, I will disappoint those of you thirsting for a profound, theological exposition, but I wanted to introduce myself a bit to those who may not know a lot about me and share a little of what God has laid on my heart.

Most of you know that God has brought my family and I on a life-changing journey over the past several years, of which I have yet to see the other side. In June 2018, I suffered a career-ending back injury at a fire scene as a career firefighter-paramedic for the City of Hibbing. While this injury was devastating to me in terms of my career, God provided through all of it. I never realized all the different programs and things that are in place to take care of firefighters injured on a fire scene.

My wife Jen, two boys, Benjamin (13) and Tommy (11), and I have been a part of this church our entire lives. I have spent 18 years working in youth ministry and the past 5-ish years as the youth director at our church. Before any of my significant life changes happened, I felt called to pursue some ministry education, unaware of what God had in store for me. I enrolled in Crown College’s online ministry program and have taken classes part-time for the past 3+ years. By the time you read this, I will have finished the last course, completing my bachelor's degree in Christian ministry.

Looking retrospectively, I have been able to see how God has been at work weaving His plan into the fabric of my life to the point where I am now able to focus so much more of my attention on His ministry here at Chisholm Baptist and the surrounding communities. I have been able to spend more time developing relationships with other pastors in our area, learning and understanding more deeply the ministry processes here at CBC, and growing in my understanding of scripture and my relationship with Christ.

On top of that, at the end of January of this year, God brought three amazing young ladies ages 18, 17, and 16 into our lives as we opened our home and family to them. These girls have been a part of our church for many years and were baptized this past year. This journey has and continues to meld two families into one as we grow to know one another, trust one another, and share lives with one another. My two son’s now have three older “sisters” and can hopefully see how God can change our lives and use us to serve others if we are willing to submit to His will.

One would think that after seeing how very evident God’s intent has been in my life, that assurance would be a steadfast resolve in my life, yet the past month has brought to life powerful emotions, doubts, fears, and anxieties. I experienced many evenings in tears in bed, wondering why I would wrestle with these when I know that God is in control. Why do I feel so inadequate, so impatient, and still so unwilling to let go of control in my life?

I think the answer is relatively simple. I still feel this way because I am still living in the “now” and not the “not yet.” I had the privilege to attend our church deacon retreat several weeks back and had an opportunity to share and pray with men who love the Lord yet struggle with the “now” of this world. But we do not labor in vain or alone. This week I just happened to pull up John Piper's devotional app, Solid Joys, which was on Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”

I realized that this was the second answer to my question. God never said that His plan would remove my tears, anxieties, or emotions. He made His plan clear to me, and He calls me to continue to plant but promises that I will sing as the harvest returns. The crops won’t wait until I finish all my grief or solve all my problems. Piper said to still be realistic, “Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field that needs to be sown (dishes to do, cars to be fixed, phone calls to make, sermons to write).” We know these tears are temporary, and our eternal reward is permanent. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are alone with this struggle; whether you are new to our church or are a senior pastor, life is hard at times and we all share in the struggle. And so I press on expectantly, looking forward to the harvest of blessing where all tears will be turned to joy!

Bryan Fagerstrom