It is common for God’s servants to feel their faithful service has been in vain. Our best intentions and efforts do not always bring the best results. Think for a moment about the ministry of Christ: even his service seemed in vain. Despite his dynamic ministry of healing, raising the dead, casting out demons, preaching with power, and pouring his life into the twelve disciples, the nation of Israel appeared unchanged at the time of his death. The evil motives of the powerful still ruled the nation. The masses still looked for a political savior rather than a savior from sin. The twelve disciples had scattered; one of the twelve had committed suicide due to his heinous betrayal. At the time of the crucifixion all evidence pointed to failure. It appeared that Jesus had worked for no purpose. Great ministry does not always yield great results.
“I have labored to no purpose. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
Isaiah’s words give us another insight for when our work appears futile. He surrendered the results of his labor into God’s care. Isaiah 49:4 continues with these words: “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” He did not allow the apparent futility of his work to cloud his perspective. He left the reward for his work in the hands of God the Father, not people. He did not base the assessment of his work on the response of the moment. He sought to be faithful and surrendered the matter of results into his Heavenly Father’s care.
Are you discouraged with your work? Does it seem futile and ineffective? Yes there may be wise adjustments to make to your ministry strategies, but guard your heart. Don’t let temporal circumstances be the final arbiter of your ministry. Is it not wise to let the one who sees the end from the beginning be the judge of your work? Is it not wise to entrust your work into the hand of him who works out his purposes not only through days, weeks, and years, but also through generations? Surrender the results of your work into the care of the one who has the long-range view. Surrender your reward to him who knows your heart, your motives, and your faithfulness. He is the best judge of your work and will reward you accordingly.
Prayer starter: Lord, thank you that what is due me is in your hand.
About the Author: Lyndon Wall served as a pastor in Alberta, Canada for fourteen years. He has also served the Jos, Nigeria mission community by providing pastoral care. Lyndon is the founder of Refresh Ministries, which is dedicated to helping people in ministry enjoy “healthy souls.” Lyndon earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This excerpt is from Lyndon’s devotional book “Refresh“. Lyndon wrote “Refresh“ specifically for pastors, missionaries, and ministry workers whose souls have been parched by the stresses and tests of life. Stress is a reality of life. It can harm and drain us of vital energy. It must be responded to wisely. This devotional book was written to help you encounter Jesus Christ, the great refresher of the soul and give insights that will help you live with a renewed and joyful heart.