But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” Isaiah 49:4
Even Jesus’ ministry appeared to be unsuccessful (John 1:11). He lived and died in a remote part of the Roman Empire. He gathered around him only a small group of men and women who weren’t well educated or influential. Yet later the Jews would accuse them of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6 AMP).
At the time of Jesus’ death, no one would have suspected the enormous social change that his life would initiate. Hospitals, orphanages, schools, universities would be built in his name. Virtues like humility and the worth of every person would develop. Jesus’ life changed the behaviours that society valued.
This gives us great hope during those times when our ministry seems futile. We faithfully persist in a ministry that God has called us to but there’s little growth and we wonder the value of continuing. At such times we can remind ourselves of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) and the ant, who through doing a little often achieves a great deal (Proverbs 6:6-8). As well as remembering the life of Jesus’ himself.
We have God’s promise that he is faithful and nothing in God is wasted (1 Corinthians 15:58). God is the Rewarder of those who seek him and his ways (Hebrews 11:6). God hasn’t called us to a completely selfless life, rather we’re motivated by a future hope.
With the benefit of hindsight, we know Jesus accomplished incredible spiritual and social change. As we entrust our lives to God, we believe he will use our lives to eternally impact others.