WHEN CRISIS COMES, IS THE MISSION REALLY WORTH IT?
We would be beyond humanity if we didn’t ask this question at one time or another. There are, honestly, many times when we cannot imagine any earthly good from events that overtake us.
Paul, writing to a church that had seemingly forfeited any right for Paul’s optimism, boldly jumps out on the end of the limb of faith and declares, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).”
That settles it! Everything he suffered – from torture to disappointments and frustrations: none of it is empty or without meaningful benefit in the final analysis.
Paul even said that you “know” this. Which brings me to another puzzling question: how can you know it? We rarely understand even a fraction of the divine logic of trials. Probably the most common question I have heard from God’s people through the years is the bewildering question “why?” Most of the times I could not begin to answer the question. But still, the believer “knows” it, because God said it!
If it were best for us to know “why”, we would be told, but until then, we only have to accept the “thus” of potential benefit from trials- “thus saith the Lord.” Paul’s word “know” carries the idea of an experiential learning process that leads to a certain knowledge.
One of the greatest joys in our ministry at the forty-year mark was that of seeing how God had taken our labours, hopes, trials, disappointments, losses, frustrations – over which our verdict of “It’s not worth it” hangs as a crumpled albatross of emptiness – and is making them begin to turn out for eternal “meaningful benefit.”
The process will continue on throughout eternity. “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).” Our Lord is anxious to clearly demonstrate or exhibit openly to us, in what Wuest decribes as “the ages that will pile one upon another in continuous succession”, the unmeasureable wealth of understanding His grace in our life and labours.
Some thirteen traumatic years after Paul’s confident faith that our “labour is not in vain in the Lord,” he quietly awaits- the loosing of the yoke of labour, the cumbersome prison fetters, the body that binds him to this world- that he may depart for his heavenly destination.
He can see the divine logic much clearer now. Filling his soul is the confidence that he has fought the fight to the finish, that he has finished the race, and has kept the divine truth entrusted to him ready to place it back into those blessed nail-scarred hands.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day (2 Tim. 4:8).” A crown is not a relic of an empty, frustrated labour nor of a disappointed bitter life. Rather, it is a thrilling souvenir of God’s faithfulness in bringing eternal, meaningful benefit out of every earthly trial that we will ever experience while walking in His beautiful will.
“So run that ye may obtain (I Cor. 9:24).” Keep on running in the way that winners run so that you can obtain the victor’s award. It is worth it all-every bit of it.