Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:3)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix out eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2Cor. 4:16-18)
In our work for God, weariness and discouragement can overtake us when we’re results-oriented, which comes naturally to us. We work toward a goal – helping, building, teaching – and when we don’t see a positive result, we get deflated, discouraged, and even bitter.
But when God calls us to work for him, He’s calling us to follow His lead, and to leave the results in His hands. We may assume what the outcome should look like, but our ways are not God’s ways. We may well see an obvious result – perhaps someone turning to Christ – or we may not see any good or measurable result with our own eyes or in our lifetime.
What we can do is to rest in the assurance that if God has called us to do a work, there will be positive results. These may have more to do with helping, growing and teaching us than those we set out to help. They may impact those in relationship with us, or the object of our help, in ways we couldn’t imagine. This calls for trust that God does in fact know what He’s doing, and the recognition that He doesn’t have to prove anything to us. It’s about where we keep our eyes focused – are they on God and His wisdom, or on us and our results?
It really comes down to faith: believing when we don’t see, and leaving it to God.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, talks about how vital it is to keep our eyes squarely on God and put our whole confidence in him. Far from seeing hardship as proof that we’re not doing God’s work because we’re not getting the results we expect, James sees this as evidence that most of us learn the most effective lessons in the school of hard knocks, and that God has other results in mind:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2).
James wasn’t speaking hypothetically here. This letter was written in AD 45, a year after Herod murdered one of the apostles, James the brother of John, and was actively persecuting the church. James knew that despite the apparently negative outcome, God was achieving something greater and more necessary:
Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:3-6)
God needs us to mature if we are to serve Him well. We are to be childlike, not childish. Part of being mature is to ask God before we charge ahead with our “good work.” Too often we ask Him to bless what we’ve already done, sure we know what He wants. God also needs us to be complete in our trust in him, not hot and cold.
While it’s natural for us mere mortals to get tired and discouraged, we must quickly remind ourselves not to stay there. When we give in, what we’re really saying is that our God is too small, too short-sighted and too powerless to work out His purposes for our lives. The opposite is true; we can choose to live in the light and power of God’s greatness, goodness and glory.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
Believe it. Leave it. We’re safe in his hands.