Not in Vain

 

Isaiah 49:1b

The Lord summoned me from birth; he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world.

Isaiah 49:4

But I thought, “I have worked in vain; I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.” But the Lord will vindicate me; my God will reward me.

Isaiah 49:5-6

So now the Lord says, the one who formed me from birth to be his servant – he did this to restore Jacob to himself, so that Israel might be gathered to him; and I will be honored in the Lord’s sight, for my God is my source of strength – 6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” 7 This is what the Lord, the protector of Israel, their Holy One, says to the one who is despised and rejected by nations, a servant of rulers: “Kings will see and rise in respect, princes will bow down, because of the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.” 8 This is what the Lord says: “At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you; in the day of deliverance I will help you; I will protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, to rebuild the land and to reassign the desolate property. 9 You will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those who are in dark dungeons, ‘Emerge.’ They will graze beside the roads; on all the slopes they will find pasture. 10 They will not be hungry or thirsty; the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, for one who has compassion on them will guide them; he will lead them to springs of water.  11 I will make all my mountains into a road; I will construct my roadways.” 12 Look, they come from far away!  Look, some come from the north and west, and others from the land of Sinim!  13 Shout for joy, O sky!  Rejoice, O earth!  Let the mountains give a joyful shout!  For the Lord consoles his people and shows compassion to the oppressed.

To those who watched as Christ was crucified, it might have seemed as if His work was all in vain.  He, who was to restore Israel, was nailed to a cross, along with the hopes of those who were looking to Him.  If my Redeemer, my Messiah, knew what it was to be rejected despite being God in the flesh, I should expect nothing less as His servant.

We, too, were chosen before the world began.  God knew all of our days before one began.  He is not surprised when we are rejected or when we are seeking to do His will and are met with adversity.  Instead, He uses it all to fulfill His plan.

This world has a lot of politics and striving.  Sometimes we can feel insignificant with our little portion that we offer for God’s service.  But God sees.  When people denounce us for their own gain, or try to minimize His calling on our lives, His will still stands.  Worry is gone, because of the sovereignty of God, nothing is ever in vain.  Our work might be small in man’s eyes, but big or small, it is all for Him.  We might not see the fruit in the here and now, but we can know that all labor done in the LORD is lasting.

When others even within the fold seek to tear down our calling, we have to remember that Christ can relate.  This is expected in the territory of ministry, just harder to bear when it is within the church.  The beauty in it is that God uses it to refine us and make us more like Him.  Recognition is not the goal, but faithfulness to God’s calling.  The only thing in vain is to be concerned with other’s opinion of us instead of pleasing God.

Lord, thank you that Your purposes always stand.  Help us to look to You in the trenches and to not grow discouraged when the work of our hands, all done for You – is rejected by man.

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