In the sea of the masses, there you are, pouring out your life. There you are spending yourself until there is no more left to give. There you are refreshing everyone else, while your own soul threatens to dry up. There you are working your fingers to the bone, which by now may or may not have any finger prints left. The world rushes past in an ever increasing state of “rush”. Everyday things seem to spin faster and faster as the clock ticks on. Things need to be done-so you do it. Mostly without thought. You jump into the need and meet it, you don’t do it for adoration or applause. You do it because you want to. You desire to serve Gods people, to spread the gospel message, to advance the Kingdom…but in the dead of night when there’s no one to put up a good face for…you crumble. You’ve spent yourself, poured out every ounce you have and as a result..nothing. Or at least it seems. As you analyze your acts of service, you can’t see any change. You can’t tell that you made a difference at all ; you really did give your all. You really were seeking first the kingdom but it seems like the seeds you’ve sown have fallen on hollow ground. The waves of doubt start crashing against your mind “maybe I’m not where God wants me”, “maybe I misunderstood Him..”, “there’s no glory for Him here..I just need to move on..” Or the scariest one to me, “Maybe he isn’t in this at all…”. As a Christian, I can stand not being appreciated by others, it hurts when your overlooked by your peers no doubt, but it’s something I can live with If I know I’m doing what I’m called to do. Paul would tell Timothy that everyone abandoned him in his work but the Lord stood by him…that’s what pushes us through mans lack of appreciation; having Gods. But it’s when I look around and see nothing…its when I have poured out everything I had to offer on the altar of the kingdom and there’s no fruit from it, that’s when the heavy cloak of discouragement wraps itself around my heart.
John 15 tells us that it’s to our Fathers glory that we bare much fruit…and if we abide in him we will be fruitful. Then that leaves the question; where’s the fruit?? Why does it feel like we’re standing in the middle of a barren crop field after planting kingdom seed? At times it seems like we plant, and nothing…while others have fruit sprouting up almost instantly, while there’s still no sign of a sprout for us. What happens to the faithful servant when it seems like she is overlooked, not by others, but by her God. What do you do with that kind of discouragement?
Elijah felt it after he just embarrassed the idol Baal and had to flee from the evil queen Jezebel, Jeremiah the weeping prophet was prone to it, even the forerunner, John the Baptist sent word to Jesus as he sat in Herod’s dungeon and asked “are you the one?” John had reasoned If Christ was the Messiah why would he leave his forerunner in prison? Why was everyone else experiencing the miracles of the Messiah while he was in chains? It made no sense…John paved the way, he stood up against the Pharisees but there he was…alone and seemingly overlooked by his Messiah. Christs words were ones of assurance but yet exhortation. He started by telling his discouraged brother “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news preached to them” And he then said ” blessed is he who doesn’t stumble on account of me.” Christ didn’t hold Johns questioning against him- he told the crowd “there’s never been one to rise like John…” So what did he mean by “blessed is he who doesn’t stumble?
I’m a simple minded woman but what christ words ring out to me is “Blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble over the rock of discouragement because I don’t do things as you thought I would.” John never imagined he would be locked away while the Messiah brought the kingdom to earth. He had to have thought he’d be right beside him, but he wasn’t… John did not have the opportunity to see fruit of his labor on earth, but one day at the consummation of the kingdom, John will see he was the one that prepared the path for all of us. That his fruit reached further than the Jordan, it spread throughout the world.
I think it’s no coincidence that in the Old Testament when God would set a mission before His man He would often tell them “…do not be dismayed…” Maybe he told this to Joshua because he knew that when he instructed him to march around Jericho for 7 days that the 4th or 5th day he may have been tempted to give up, to call it quits because it seemed useless. He may have told Ezekiel this very thing because He knew the people wouldn’t listen to his message, he may have told Solomon through David the same thing, so the house of the Lord would be completed. He knew these men had insurmountable odds stacked against them but he also knew that he would knock those odds to the ground. They didn’t know, they weren’t told in advance ,but He did. He knows that the fruit of our mission doesn’t often look like what we figure so we’re prone to discouragement. So, these words bellow throughout scripture:
Do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you…
You may be overworked but you are never overlooked by your God. He sees. He sees your sacrifice, he sees your late nights, he sees you fight for your family, he sees you stand up for the truth, he sees you give all you have. Hebrews 6:10 says “God is not unjust so to overlook your work and your love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints…”
So keep working. Keep loving, even when the fields seem bare. Even when heaven seems silent, keep sowing that seed…He sees and is pleased.
This may seem like a simple statement to you but it pounds in my heart today;to be faithful you must have faith. To prove faithful in this fallen world we must sow in faith and wait in hope, having full assurance that God will do what he’s promised. As we wait on that seed to sprout out of the hard ground it’ll take faith to keep serving, keep loving.
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up.”
You WILL reap…that’s a promise. However, you have to hold up your end of the promise- don’t give up.
A potato farmer never sees the fruit of their labor until it’s harvest time. They have faith that their seed yielded a crop but they have to wait until the proper time to see it because it’s growing underneath the soil.
You have fruit for your labor. You have not been overlooked-God is working through you, it may be underground, just like John, but take heart in knowing that on harvest day you will the see effect you had for the kingdom. Do not be discouraged, it could be what you’r looking for is underground. Working and growing under the surface.