For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy,and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. – Isaiah 55:10-12 (NRSV)
The journey of life is often tiring. Sometimes we look around and wonder if living as a Jesus follower really makes a difference. Sometimes we pray and we don’t get answers. Sometimes we reach out to others only to receive a cold shoulder or overt hostility. Sometimes it seems as if life is just a series of setbacks, challenges and sucker punches. We are instructed to wait on the Lord, but often we wonder, when is He going to show up?
Does the little bit of good we can do really matter?
Should we plant the seeds even if we never get to see the full grown tree?
It is rewarding when we can see the fruit of our labor. We all need encouragement and positive reinforcement, but there are times when we don’t always get those. We get discouraged.
Along with the theme of God’s rest is trust – trusting that He is faithful, trusting that He does hear our prayers, and that living faithfully to Him does make a difference, even when we don’t see results.
God’s word will not return empty. That is a powerful affirmation that we see throughout Scripture. When God says something He means it, and He will make it happen. We might not understand His timing or His mechanics, or what our role in His plans may be, but God is always faithful.
Elijah promised the widow that she would not run out of flour or oil (1 Kings 17:8-16) as long as the drought lasted, and she was rewarded for her faithfulness. Jesus promised us as well that our faithfulness to Him will be rewarded, even if it’s not in a way we might expect:
(Jesus said): “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”- Luke 6:32-36 (NRSV)
Love isn’t an easy proposition. Many times love is a choice- to choose the path of love versus vengeance, and to seek involvement in the messy things of this world versus detachment from the needs of others. It can be frustrating, tiring and overwhelming to be as Christ to others, especially when we don’t see results. But Jesus tells us to be like Him, and to let Him handle both the results and the rewards.