Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Missionaries, have you ever left the field for several months and had to trust others to handle things?
Ministers, have you done the same as you took a sabbatical?
Parents, have you had to let go of your kids as they grew and allow them to make choices and even mistakes?
My husband and I just returned from furlough. While we were away, we entrusted the ministry to local believers. We came back to find a house with rats, malnourished dogs, confusing finances, and a few persistent disagreements between some of the staff. On the other hand, there has been a famine here. The rain has just started, praise God, but they endured months of no rain and very little food at high costs. In the ministry, people were backbiting them and trying to stop the village Bible studies. Parents were stopping their children from coming for Bible studies, husbands were not allowing their wives to go. They were up against tremendous pressures from every angle, and yet they persevered. They didn’t shrink back, and instead they joined hands with other local believers to do outreach and crusades. They planted a church in one of our villages which has none. They abounded in the work of the Lord. Now the believers are growing in number and in strength, because God has used these local believers to show them the love and integrity of Christ.
I can choose to look at things from an administrative standpoint and see all of the shortfalls, and certainly I can find them if I do any amount of looking; or I can see that these believers have risen up, grown strong in the Lord, and withstood the tests of trials and even persecution and famine. I choose the latter. They make me proud, and I thank God for all of their hard work and effort while we were away. I thank God that their hearts are to serve the Lord and not us. This is what discipleship is all about. It is what growing up is all about. Sure, they will make mistakes, but they will also do great things when given the opportunity. If we had been here, they wouldn’t have had a chance to exercise their faith and overcome great obstacles on their own with the Lord. My children in the faith are growing up, and I’m beaming.
Final thoughts that I would like to leave you with this month are:
1) Remember that your labor is not in vain. The people in your circle see your example. They are being impacted whether you can see that right now or not. Don’t give up, don’t shrink back. Be steadfast and know that God is doing something in and through you!
2) It’s easy to think about the negative. Think instead about the good things - what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy. Don’t ignore the negative and the difficulties, but don’t allow them to consume you. Take control over your thoughts and be thankful, encouraged in the good, and meditate on all the work that God has done in your life and the lives of your loved ones thus far.