1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Do you ever wonder if the work you are doing is making any difference? Helping and serving others doesn’t always bear immediate fruit. People are often ungrateful. Uncaring. Insensitive. And it seems like small acts of kindness are just too small to have any impact at all.
As a primary school chaplain, I facilitate a grade 6 girls’ program towards the end of each year. The program runs for 10 weeks and culminates in a beautiful luncheon, prepared by me, for the attendees. This year I was out of my depth. Twelve boisterous, boastful, super-confident, and self-absorbed girls turned up each week. They competed with one another for attention, never conquered the art of listening well to each other and struggled to sit still for longer than 10 seconds. I was at my wits end by week three. Mostly I behaved like a cranky school teacher trying to maintain order and discipline with what I felt, were a group of rowdy five-year old’s who had indulged in too much candy. The program couldn’t come to an end soon enough.
And then we had our luncheon. Each girl was invited to reflect upon a highlight of grade 6. Every single one placed the girl’s program as the most significant event they had been a part of this year. Unbelievable.
Galatians 6: 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
In my own strength, I had nothing left to give these girls. Throughout the program only a few ever said thank you. I wondered if they heard anything being taught. Most of them were clueless how to engage with each other respectfully. I truly wanted to give up. But each week I prayed earnestly that the Lord would sustain me. And He did. God is faithful to assist us in carrying out His purposes. We are not alone, but His Spirit is actively working within us to enable, equip and persevere to the end so that our Heavenly Father is glorified.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The will to persevere comes from the Lord. Paul reassures the Philippians that they do not will and work on their own, but their wills and their actions are the very arenas where God’s power is working. We can do all things that God requires of us, because He is strengthening us to do them through His Spirit. God desires to glorify Himself through us and He will do just that as He helps us to persevere. The entire work from start to finish is His work in us.
Some weeks it was hard to love those girls. They could act so foolishly. And some could be just downright rude. Even then the Spirit came to the rescue!
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Christ’s initiating love in us creates, or stirs up, our love for Jesus and for others. His love in us controls our desires, enabling us to love even the unlovable. Because of the Spirit’s presence, we can walk in love, giving ourselves up for others even to the extent that Jesus gave Himself up for us. Incredible.
Each one of us will from time-to-time question if we are really making any difference with the work God has given us. Our default is to look for immediate fruit. We want evidence now that God is really at work. We are so impatient to want confirmation. How limited our view! Of course, God is at work in the work He has purposed! We may never see the fruit of our labors; we may never know the outcome of our small acts of kindness. But that has nothing to do with it. We must press on in the power of the Spirit, trusting in His work in us, rather than in what we see.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I wonder if, as I was, you are currently in a situation questioning the usefulness of your labor for the Lord? Is it worth the effort? Will this really make any difference? Know assuredly that God really does provide wherever He guides us. And that our labor in the Lord is never in vain.
Let’s be encouraged together by the beautiful words in Isaiah 58:11– “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
‘Dear Lord, thank You for the work that You give me to do amongst those who are in need of You. Lord it is hard sometimes. I feel like nothing is happening. I see nothing happening. Yet I know that regardless of what I see, You Lord are at work. Help me to keep faith in You. By the power of the Spirit within, help me to be strong, courageous and an instrument of Your love. In Jesus name, Amen.’