By Steven Norris

     “Why am I even here?” I heard these words (or something similar to them) multiple times on our recent mission trip to Rwanda and Uganda. Too often, I think that believers look around at others and think: “So and so is much more talented than I. They can speak/sing/paint/teach/dance/write/play sports/etc. so much better than I can. What do I have to offer?”

     Now into my third decade of ministry, I have often returned to the aphorism that launched me years ago: “God does not always call the equipped, but God always equips the called.” Such was the case on one particular day during our trip.

     We had been working with a school for children with special needs in the mornings. In the afternoons, we were given the opportunity to visit the students’ homes. These homes were extremely simple (mud brick exterior, dirt floor, and minimal furniture), yet we were welcomed with a warmth and openness beyond description.

     Following the lead of our school hosts, we brought the families a small gift of food and basic household supplies. We also wanted to listen to their stories, offer a word of encouragement for them in the midst of difficult circumstances, and pray for them.

     As the preacher of the group, most of our team automatically looked to me to give that word of encouragement. However, God had other plans. Sitting in one little boy’s house, he showed us the braces that he wore on his legs because of a birth defect. A member of our team chimed in, sharing with him about how she had been in an accident and wore a kind of brace on her leg as well. Though it was hard, God had given her strength to continue on — even to come on this mission trip.

     At the next house, the mother talked about how, after a typical infancy, her child had experienced great struggles due to seizures. Another member of our team was able to speak from personal experience regarding a family member who had experienced something similar and how they had found hope and encouragement.

     At a third house, the little boy had been born with an intestinal issue that caused him a lot of trouble and prevented him from having a typical childhood. A third member of our team spoke up, sharing with him about an illness in her life that resulted in having a significant portion of her intestines removed. Here she was, years later, serving the Lord in spite of that “disability.”

     In home after home, God “equipped the called,” giving us just the words we needed for the circumstances before us. We saw this scripture come to life: “Praise be to God . . . who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

     God will equip you, too, for the calling placed on your life. Often, your experiences of greatest pain and failure can become the starting points for the most powerful ministries. All we must do is pay attention to the voice of the Spirit and make ourselves available for God to use. After all, God always equips the called.