“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9).
Discouragement, fatigue, and a lack of results often bring us to the place of wanting to quit. We struggle against our own sins, the power of the devil, and the sins of other people and it seems to require too much effort to keep moving forward. In fact, progress, at times, seems to evade us altogether. “What difference does it make?,” we may argue. “The more I struggle against that sin the more it seems to get the better of me. The more I try to help people and get involved in their lives the more criticism I receive. The more I try to witness for the gospel the more I see the country heading away from the Christian faith. I don’t have any real impact on the world anyway, so what’s the use in trying?” Do you ever feel this way? I do. When we reach this point, we have lost sight of the ultimate goal of God’s work in our lives, and we have lost sight of the work of God’s kingdom. We have become more focused on the struggles of the moment and fail to remember the promises of God’s word.
As I began planning a garden for my backyard a few years ago, I began with a vision of what I wanted it to be when I was finished. I thought about it, laid it out in my mind and even drew plans on paper. Having envisioned what the garden would look like when finished, I next had to set out to accomplish that plan via specific activities, e.g., laying out stakes on the ground to mark of the location, building a compost bin, acquiring tools, etc. I referred often to the plans in my head and to the ones on paper.
As I progressed toward achieving my goals there was much hard work involved. Some days, as I was turning and mixing the soil with my shovel and the sweat rolled down into my eyes, and as I considered how much more I still had to do, I wondered whether I would ever get finished and whether it was worth all this trouble. In other words, I grew weary. However, after a little rest, another look at the plans, and some contemplation of what that lush garden would look like, I pressed on. The end result was the best garden I have ever had. It turned out exactly as I had planned. My wife commented when the project was finished, “I didn’t realize it was going to look this good when you were working on it.” I responded, “I knew exactly what it was going to look like from the beginning. This is precisely what I had envisioned.”
Likewise, if we are to not grow weary in our work for the kingdom of God we must never lose sight of God’s plans. We must refer to His Word often and be reminded that the daily labor and struggle has a much larger goal in view. We must stop wallowing in self pity and shift our focus back to the role God has given us in His kingdom work. Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Discouragement comes when we begin to think that success and real accomplishment are dependent upon us―that it’s up to us to get results. But the Scriptures tell us that what we are responsible for is that we be found, in the end, to have been “good and faithful servants” of God (Matt. 25:21). All the results are left in God’s hands. Mark 4:26-29 says, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” The farmer, from the moment he has sown the seed must leave the sprouting, the growing and the maturing to God. He is only a worker who at the proper time sows and reaps. God controls the rest (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:7).
We should not be discouraged when we don’t see immediate results; patience is called for. Rather than fretting, we must go about our day-to-day business, having proclaimed the Word of God, going to bed at night, getting up in the morning, cultivating the garden and doing the things we’re supposed to do. Just as the vegetables come to maturity at the right time, so too the fruit of our spiritual labors will eventually appear.
God’s kingdom is like a very large farm. It employees many people. Some people have greater responsibilities than others; some have more rows to hoe. Our job is to take care of those tasks God has given us to do, and to do them well. If God has given you the ability to influence (i.e., cultivate) a thousand people then get on with it. However, if He has given you only five plants to care for, that doesn’t mean you can take a day off. God doesn’t start a work without finishing it and neither may we. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Have you grown weary? Have you slowed down or quit? Keep your mind’s eye focused on the certain harvest―look again to the final plans. Don’t be discouraged by the daily labor. Remember the Lord of the harvest, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2). Ask the Lord to send you back to the field and to keep before your mind the fact that “in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”