Everyone has read the quote by Mother Theresa, "The Lord has not called me to be successful, He has called me to be faithful."
And we nod our head in agreement...until we are seemingly unsuccessful. Then, we wonder what went wrong, what did we do wrong, and where is God in all this? Dark discouragement threatens our spiritual health, as we examine every aspect of our existence, searching for solutions to this problem - for an explanation for this unexpected turn of events.
After all, if we do our part, isn't God obligated to do His? Underneath all the Christian-speak about trusting in God, isn't life a pretty predictable series of acts of obedience, followed by the goal of good results? Sure, we may encounter temporary set-backs, even a catastrophe here and there, but shouldn't the end result turn out to be the one for which we aim? What is trusting in God for, if not to grant success to us when we are obedient to Him?
To put it succinctly: no. Trusting in the Lord pleases Him. That is the goal. The goal, ultimately, is simply to one day hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
It is hard to stare perceived failure in the eye. It can be devastating to look back on years of work, even decades of obedience to God, with little to show for it, to the eyes of watching men.
But I have a word for you, wherever you are. Whether you have been faithful in the ministry, only to see hardship - or worked your heart out for years in your own business, only to see it go under - whether you have been honest and upright in a relationship, only to be mistreated, or circumspect with your finances, only to see hard times; whether you have been obedient to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, only for them to demand all you had to give, and leave you and your God - whether you have diligently poured out your best years to your local church, only to be betrayed....what if I told you that your obedience-for-the-sake-of-obedience is beautiful in the eyes of the Lord? What if God Himself told you that?
He has already told you, when He told Isaiah. Listen to Isaiah's broken heart:
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain... (Is. 49:4)
"All this work, for nothing. I've exhausted myself to no avail. Decades of faithfully prophesying the word of the Lord - and no revival. No results."
..yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.
Here comes the best part, the healing part ~
And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant...Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
And thus saith the Lord to you. "Yet." Oh, yet! Not just "yet", but "yet surely." Yet surely as He knows your name, you are beautiful in the eyes of your Father, and He promises to strengthen you.
Life is not a predictable series of acts of obedience followed by sure and immediate and perfect results. Sometimes, we do all we know to do, and "Israel is not gathered". Cry your tears, beloved, and then dry them, because outward success was never to be your goal.
Your goal is to be glorious...honourable...distinguished...important and successful in the eyes of the Lord.
And yet you shall be.