Many times I’ve become discouraged about my life and my endeavors, and I have to practice the same thing that David did and ‘encourage myself.’ “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30:6) My main goal is unchanging, to meet the Lord at the end of my life, and hear Him say, “Well done!” But in the everyday, nitty-gritty carrying out of my life and my responsibilities, I could often tell you that I feel like a total failure. I’ve joked repeatedly that someday I’m going to be the author of a book entitled, “Confessions of a Totalled Woman!”
Recently in my prayer time, I chuckled through my tears as I confessed to the Lord, “I sincerely want You to be able to pronounce “Well Done” when I meet You, but today I feel as if the sum total of my life would be more like, “You’re toast!”
Since I’m human and especially since I’m female, I deal with the ever changing physical and emotional factors that can affect my outlook. Beyond that, I’m surrounded by circumstances and people that are completely beyond the power of my decisions and my desires, and many times they change direction about the time I think I’ve got things figured out.
How wonderful that the Savior Who loved me enough to die in my place still says, “I am the Lord. I change not.” How comforting to come to His Word every day of my life in every situation, and it still guarantees that His power is more than enough to overcome my helplessness and my weakness; His infinite wisdom is still sufficient to make up for my foolishness and uncertainty; His promise is still true and will swallow up my hopelessness and defeat in His victory.
Will I hear, “Well Done,” when I meet God? The devil could keep me discouraged enough on any day to give up, but the Word of God can encourage, challenge, motivate and strengthen me to keep on keeping on.
God loves and sees us through a Father’s eyes.
When I’m a little bit discouraged with myself, it always helps to remember that God looks at me in the same way that I look at my children. In this same passage where the disciples have asked the Lord Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” and He gave them the example of the model prayer, He also goes on, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:9-13)
When I realize how I watch my children go through the bumps and bruises and learning experiences that come their way, I know I am always believing in them, cheering for them, and seeing the best in them. God says that any parent, not just the good parent, will respond kindly and mercifully to a request from his own child for something that is good. A parent’s affection for their child is not cruel or demanding, but kind, helpful, generous and forgiving. He said to us, as human parents who are sinful, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give...”
Those are precious words to me. I only have to reflect briefly on how much I love my children, and then think of my Heavenly Father’s affection toward me as His child, and wonder how much more He is capable of love for His child, no matter how imperfect, than I am for my children. His love far surpasses any that I could possibly feel or express. Even if God only loved me as much as I love my children, (and the Bible convinces me that He loves me exceedingly more,) I would find hope and encouragement in His love.
God sees and rewards my desires as well as my accomplishments
God’s ‘well dones’ are not just reserved for the few overachievers! My husband has often pointed this out in his preaching, and it’s been a blessing to me many times over. Solomon said, “Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel, But the Lord said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart: Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.” (II Chronicles 6:7-9) God said that He recognized and pronounced ‘well done’ (thou didst well), over what David desired to do, even though he was not able to accomplish the task.
For David, it was not God’s plan for him, but it was something God allowed his son to do later. Still God recognized, and I believe rewarded, David’s desire to build the temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel. How many things have there been in our lives that we had the desire to do for God, but, for whatever reason, the aspiration never became an accomplishment? God still sees and honors the fact that our desire is to please and glorify Him. What a blessed thought!
Sometimes circumstances or people have made it impossible to cross off the list as done those things that we thought sure we were going to do. Maybe God had something else in mind for us, and that particular job in mind for someone else or even some other time. Maybe we have tried, but not succeeded at reaching a goal or finishing a certain task. Whatever it is that causes us to feel we have failed, it’s good to know that God recognizes our desire to serve and honor and please Him, and to do something for His glory.
My husband said in one sermon, “Do you mean to say that I am a success at soulwinning without results? No, but I am a success BEFORE results, because success equals obedience, finding the will of God and doing it for a lifetime.” Success equals obedience as much as accomplishment, and desire as much as doing.
Do we frown and scowl at our little children the first time they tackle a job and don’t do it quite as well as we do? No! On the contrary, we are more excited about their efforts and endeavors at making the bed or washing the car or whatever task they have done for the first time, than if we had done it perfectly ourselves. We know that the perfecting of the task comes with more practice, growth and maturity. The Father’s love says, “I am pleased because you wanted to, and I am pleased because you gave it your best.”
There are areas in my life where the devil can beat me down with doubt and regret and feelings of failure. Yet when I realize that God looks at my heart and my desire, and He recognizes my effort as much or more than my results, I am comforted and encouraged.
I can remember as a young teenager hearing a family who sang together. In fact, their two year old sang all four verses of Amazing Grace by herself. I can remember how moved and challenged I was to want a marriage and family where we would serve the Lord together as a family. It’s been quite some time since that first desire and prayer, but praise the Lord, I’ve known the joy of some years where I was blessed to be able to serve the Lord together with my family, and even sing together.
I remember the first Bible messages I listened to about how to ‘train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ I can remember my fervent desire and prayer for my children to meet and marry the one who was God’s choice for their life, and to see them serve the Lord together. I remember promising the Lord that I would do everything in my power to help my kids grow up and get all the way to the wedding altar pure. Though I didn’t do ‘the mom job’ flawlessly, I have seen the Lord bring some of those desires to fruition in our family, and what a blessing it has been to my heart.
There have been goals in my marriage relationship, I guess the most prominent of which is found in Proverbs 31, “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” I want to be that kind of a ‘do-gooder,’ who has a positive effect in the lives of those around me, especially my husband and family. The goal is still right, even when my performance is not measuring up.
I remember the first time I really thought about Moody’s response to the challenge, “The world has yet to see what God can do with one man who is totally surrendered to God.” He said, “By the grace of God, I will be that man.” The Lord challenged me with the thought of what He could do with a couple, two who became one flesh, who would totally surrender to God’s will and work. In fact, it was so much on my mind that I wrote down the words to this poem years ago.
It’s yet to be seen what the Lord could do
With a man surrendered wholly -- if his wife was, too;
With two people who are truly one, a husband and a wife
Who would give to God all their heart, and give Him all their life.
The world has never really seen what God meant us to be
But they might just get a glimpse through the lives of you and me.
For it’s yet to be seen what the Lord could do
With a man surrendered wholly -- if his wife was, too.
Even when I feel like a total failure at reaching my goals, they are still the goals I have chosen, and I still believe they are goals that please the Lord. Those are my desires even when I cannot call them my accomplishments. While my ‘mission accomplished’ might not always match up to the lofty aspirations I started out with, I don’t need to let the devil talk me into quitting because he makes me feel like I’ve failed in some area. God recognizes and rewards diligence, but He also recognizes and rewards godly desire.
One day while reading my Bible, I stumbled across another affirmation of this truth, that God is pleased when I love what He loves and hate what He hates, even if I’m never able to change the situation or circumstance. Here it seems that God is describing a spiritual accounting before judgment falls that would be invisible to our eyes, where His angels are making record of the spiritual condition and actions of the people. “And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Ezekiel 9:3-6) In the margin of my Bible, I wrote, “Am I marked for mercy?”
We live in a wicked old world that seems to be progressing at high speed to get worse and worse, like a runaway train. We’ve gotten use to abortion and immorality, the rude, the lewd and the crude, and things that use to shock and alarm us now make us yawn or turn a deaf ear, because we don’t see any way we can actually change them or make a difference. It’s easy to feel defeated and helpless. I’m sure the devil loves for us to just give up, and ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’
But I think the Bible is clear that if my heart is grieved by the things that grieve the heart of God, even if I’ve tried but failed to make a difference, I don’t need to give up in defeat. God sees my heart and rewards my heart’s desire, and when judgement falls, He will protect those who have stayed ‘on God’s side’. I need to make sure that I’m on the side of right and truth, no matter how bleak the outlook. We’re definitely on the winning side. God sees the truth of what’s in my heart, and will reward or judge or show mercy to me accordingly.
God Always Sees and Blesses What Is Done or Given For His Glory
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world: Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16) “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10)
No matter how I see my labor, it helps to remember that God sees my labor too, and He promises that my labor is not in vain in the Lord. “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 Corinthians 15:58) Another statement from my favorite preacher is that Paul said ‘always abounding in the work of the Lord.’ He didn’t say we were commanded to be abounding in results or success, just in the work. If I can learn to be challenged by the work, instead of results or lack of results, then I can always stay challenged and encouraged. There is always a great work to be done. The job is always calling out for laborers. The need is great. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
It’s too easy to get discouraged. I often feel like I’m just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere fast. When I feel that my labor is not accomplishing any of my intentions, God still rewards doing the work. I can do the work ‘as unto the Lord,’ and know that it rests in the hands of the same One who can take the average everyday barrel of water and turn it into so much more. “Just give God your best; Let Him handle the rest.”
We don’t ever need to feel lonely or despairing, because we are co-workers or ‘laborers together’ with God, and He never fails. First Corinthians 3:9 says so. “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I’m just the Junior Partner on the winning team! “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) My insufficiencies don’t even count when coupled together with His all-sufficiency! But it is true that, “...without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5) It’s when I’m in the yoke with Christ, laboring together with Him, that anything becomes possible. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Doing what God has commanded me to do never goes unblessed or unrewarded. With a right heart and willingness to just keep trying, we CAN look forward to hearing that “Well Done!” Let’s be encouraged to keep on serving the Lord, and just keep on keeping the main thing the main thing.
Say to the sower, Keep on sowing.
Day is almost done.
Night comes when no man can work,
At setting of the sun.
The seed of the word shall not return void,
Much fruit is a guaranteed thing
He that goeth forth with tears
Shall doubtless a great harvest bring.
Just Keep On Sowing.
Say to the fishermen, Keep on rowing.
Though stormy waters rage.
As fishers of men, He’s with us always
Unto the end of the age.
Cast your net on the other side, if you must,
The greatest draught to see;
I will make you fishers of men
If only you follow Me.
Just Keep On Rowing.
Say to the runner, Keep on going.
Don’t stop in the midst of your race;
The finish line is up ahead,
Where you’ll meet Him face to face.
A great cloud of witnesses cheer you on
From Heaven’s golden shore,
They watch and wait, so don’t stop now,
Rest awaits there forevermore.
Just Keep On Going.