Prior to moving to East Africa, I spent hours praying, seeking counsel, and preparing for a new lifestyle and ministry. Loneliness, limited amenities, leaving friends, and cultural adjustments were among the challenges I expected. Soon, however, I realized that while my love for the Ugandan people remained constant, the hardships, constant giving of my time and energy, and responsibilities of life in a foreign land were taking a toll beyond what I’d anticipated.

Thankfully, Scripture is rich in exhortations for hard times, such as those found in Joshua 22. When heeded, they lead to enriched confidence in God, stronger character, and renewed strength to continue serving Him by His power. “Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment,” wrote C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain. Indeed, it is far easier to be giving and sacrificial when things are going smoothly. But challenges remind us that a fruitful ministry must be based on God’s leading and power—not our own intentions.

Wherever God leads us or asks us to stay, it’s our joy to follow Him in trust and obedience. In Joshua 22:5, the Israelites were instructed to love God, walk in obedience to Him, keep His commands, “hold firmly to him,” and “serve him with all [their] heart and all [their] soul.” These commands should be an encouragement to all believers, especially those serving in particularly difficult situations.

Just as the people of Israel were instructed to “share” with others out of their abundance (Joshua 22:8), may we share with others our time, talents, and treasures. And let’s hold tightly to Him during difficult days, freely giving of ourselves as He provides.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 14:15-35