You are doing something for God, whether it is a ministry or something else, but you feel discouraged. You either don’t see any fruit or you are faced with obstacle after obstacle. Is God trying to tell you to stop, to move on to something else? Is that what God’s will is? Or is it just Satan trying to thwart our efforts? How do we know?
Well, as my mom always says, “What does Scripture say?” As I began to search my Bible, I found such an overwhelming answer:
- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
- “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
- “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)
- “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)
And many, many more! The scripture, however, that I think best addresses all our question on this it Philippians 3:13-15 (NIV):
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
In these verses, Paul encourages us to continue and to ‘press on,’ but he also says that God will make things clear to us. What peace and freedom this brings! When we don’t see fruit it is easy to get discouraged, but this is common. It doesn’t mean there isn’t any fruit, but that we just can’t see it yet. In a way, it’s a benefit. It helps us prevent pride from creeping in. And when we are faced with obstacles, it is wise to remember that we know for sure that Satan will attack and that we will face trials. (James 1)
We also know that God is perfectly capable of closing doors, and we can trust Him to do it.
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
‘These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.'” (Revelations 3:7-8 NIV)
I’m not saying that God never redirects our paths, but the overwhelming evidence of Scripture is to persevere, to press on toward the goal. Maybe the answer is often to ‘renew’ our ministry, not to have a ‘new’ one.