By: Dr. Lauren Charles, CVM Southeast Region Representative
A great friend matched for a great internship and later a residency in your field of interest.
You were a bridesmaid in yet another wedding.
Your colleague is being honored for his service to the community.
Another Facebook announcement highlights another pregnancy when you’re still trying.
A former classmate’s clinic was selected as the AAHA Hospital of the Year.
Your sister’s child received another academic excellence award.
Your best friend from vet school just paid off their school loans!
So-and-so got the great house, the beautiful family, and your their dream job.
If I were to guess, I’d say that at least one of these scenarios has applied to you. We’ve all been there. Trying to be excited for someone when they have exactly what we want.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” -Romans 12:15 (NIV)
In Romans, Paul recommends that we “rejoice with those who rejoice,” but sometimes the second half of his advice “to mourn with those who mourn” seems like the easier of the two empathetic options.
In my own journey, I’ve experienced many of these same situations; watching others excel academically, grow their families, and advance their careers in ways that led me to covet what they had, instead of wholeheartedly celebrating with them.
And sometimes it’s even in ministry itself that we struggle not to want what others have. I first came to know and fall in love with CVM in a thriving CVF group in vet school. Through Bible study, Real Life Real Impact weekends, short-term mission trips, and the fellowship of friendships I still cherish today, God used CVM to propel me into full-time ministry.
For a few years, I served on the front lines so-to-speak; living and teaching in a developing nation. I spent my free time with orphans and my work time trying to help alleviate poverty through veterinary medicine, while building relationships to share the gospel with those who didn’t know Christ’s love. I was living the missionary dream.
Then, God started growing my family, and my ministry adjusted to accommodate them. When I returned to the states and took a CVM Region Rep role it provided many opportunities for interactions with students which I love, and for using my missions experience to support others who feel called to go. But now, as I facilitate students and professionals to fellowship and serve, it means watching others go to the front lines, and sometimes missing the direct ministry of serving the poor, regular Bible studies, mentoring, teaching, and training.
Jesus makes it clear, however, that no matter what part of ministry we’re currently involved in, there is so much joy to be found in the work. “The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!” –John 4:36 (NLT). Whether we’re planting the seeds, watering the sprouts, or harvesting the fruit we’re sharing in important parts of bringing people to eternal life.
Recently, a vet school colleague, and great friend, moved his family to Zambia to serve with CVM. Their updates detail their adventures with alligators, bats, and deadly snakes. The newborn calves from the AI program they implemented are the size of 6-month-olds of the local breed. It would be easy for my missionary mouth to water over their exotic animal encounters and veterinary successes. But it would be so much wiser to just rejoice with them. As I helped them discern God’s call to the field, guided them through some of the details of launching their new journey, prayed with them as they processed and transitioned their lives, and now am able to support them financially, I see how necessary the ministry of sending is for those who go. And it fills me with joy to see the Lord making such a difference for so many through veterinary medicine.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!!” –Philippians 4:4 (NLT)