Dr. Graham:

Our pastor just announced that he’s retiring in a few months. He is greatly loved and respected in our church and community (he’s been here over 30 years), and I don’t see how we’ll ever replace him. Why is God doing this to us?

— K.Y.

Dear K.Y.: Just as in any other profession or career, no pastor’s ministry is endless; the time must come for every pastor to step aside and allow others to take their place. Even Paul reached that point: “The time for my departure is near” (2 Timothy 4:6).

I know that it will be hard for you to see your pastor leave; it’s probably going to be hard for him as well. However, instead of giving in to discouragement or despair, my prayer is that God will use this to stretch your congregation’s faith and strengthen their trust in God. God is more concerned about your church than you are — and he can be trusted to lead you to the person He has chosen for your next pastor.

This is why the most important thing you and everyone else in your church can do is to pray. Ask God to help your church’s leaders as they organize the search process, and ask God especially to give your church great wisdom as you seek God’s choice for this position. Don’t expect your new pastor to be exactly like your present pastor, of course, but make it your goal to encourage and support him.

Above all, no matter what changes your church experiences in the months and years ahead, never lose sight of the one who never changes: Jesus Christ. Remember: You are “God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).