August 18, 2015

Jeremiah 31:16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.

I don’t know if this verse was in the writer’s mind at the time, but Hebrews says something very similar. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36) Paul also said, “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) This is a word of encouragement that people have needed from the dawn of time, and will continue to need until our final reward. We all have hard times, and the temptation to give up can be unrelenting. That is when faith really needs to kick in, but sometimes we don’t choose to allow it to do so. People who commit suicide have chosen, whether or not they realize it, not to lift their eyes to see God, above and beyond their circumstances. Despair is a very real, human, and not uncommon emotion, but it leaves God out of the equation. We despair only when we are limiting our vision to this life, to the temporal that is by definition temporary. Nate Saint comes to mind, with his famous declaration that “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Nate and literally millions of others gave their lives out of obedience to God and refusal to deny Him, but after physical death they entered into the fullness of the eternal life that they received when they believed in and committed themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There were more Christian martyrs in the 20th Century than in the previous 19 combined, and the 21st Century certainly seems set to outstrip that. However, martyrs haven’t lost, they have gained a huge reward.

It’s been many years now since I realized that both of the sons of Zebedee gave their lives for Jesus, just as He said. (Mark 10:38-39) However, James was the first of the 12 to be martyred, (Acts 12:2) and tradition tells us that John was the only one of the 12 to die a natural death of old age. I have come to the conviction that James had the easier path! James endured only a fraction of the things John had to go through, but I’m sure both knew it was more than worth it. I minister in a nation that has less physical danger, of violence at any rate, than America, but it has caused countless missionaries to give up, broken and defeated. Just yesterday I received news of the death of a dear friend, to whom I had witnessed countless times but who had never opened his heart to believe. The grief is very real as I will be going to his wake tonight and funeral tomorrow. I cannot force anyone to believe and receive salvation, but I can and must be faithful to continue to offer that salvation to all. God tells me through Jeremiah to restrain my tears, but I would so like to see these people I love receive my reward with me. I’ve got to keep trusting, keep obeying, and leave the results to God.

Father, thank You for this Word this morning. Thank You for getting us through the photo show that ended yesterday. There too my outlay was greater than my intake, as far as I could see, but You know the impact we had on people that can’t be measured in numbers. I pray for Your harvest in Your time for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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