I work in both a secular and a Christian environment, and each have their own joys and challenges. Working with people can be a messy business sometimes, as human behaviour is not always predictable, nor do people always choose the most obvious path. If you don’t guard your heart, it can quickly become cynical or even despairing. One sad story follows another sad story and, before you know it, you start ingesting the hopelessness of those you are working with. Any overworked or overstretched pastoral carer knows exactly what I am talking about.
Obviously, this is not God’s will for His children, though, as we are called to be light in the darkness and carriers of His hope. The darkness of this world should not be engulfing us, but rather fleeing at our approach. That is the biblical perspective, at least, and it is the perspective I choose to embrace. God is always at work, whether we perceive it or not. Through our surrendered lives, God brings comfort, restoration, healing, life and light to others.
Today’s scripture was a great encouragement to me during a season where I felt my efforts were accomplishing little. Into that space God spoke, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded’ (Jeremiah 31:16). In context, God was actually speaking to Israel, through the prophet Jeremiah, and it was the restoration of their nation that he was proclaiming.
Nevertheless, the verse ministered to me because I identified with Israel’s grief. I was not crying over my own brokenness but that of others. It was as if God stooped down to me with a box of tissues and told me to wipe away my tears. He was indeed at work in the lives of the people I was working alongside, and I would see a reward for my labour. I held this promise close to my heart.
The apostle Paul relayed a similar message to the Corinthians. He said, ‘So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless’ (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT). That must have been an ‘adrenaline shot’ for the Corinthian church. Paul also encouraged the Galatian Church in a like manner. He told them to continue sowing good deeds, wherever they had opportunity, as harvest time was coming (Galatians 6:9-10). They would only reap, though, if they continued sowing and refused to give up.
Perhaps you are lamenting over your efforts today and are considering quitting. “Don’t do it! Keep sowing! Harvest is coming!” I repeat, “Harvest is coming. God is at work and your efforts will be rewarded. Can I pass you a box of tissues right now so you can wipe away those tears?”
Prayer: Father God, I want to be a faithful child, who keeps on sowing into the lives of others. Thank You that my efforts, in Your name, are being rewarded, whether I perceive that fact or not. By faith I will keep on sowing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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