“But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’” vs. 4
The prophets of old had courage, conviction, and a strong sense that they had a word from the Lord that the people desperately needed to hear. They poured out their hearts in mission, frequently facing rejection and sometimes experiencing suffering and death. The words of today’s text could have been uttered by any number of them. After a lifetime of service and frustration there was not much reward at looking back. These preachers didn’t get plaques from appreciative congregations. They weren’t rewarded with pensions and retirement plans. No one ever paid any attention to them for the long term! Sometimes that’s how it works out for the faithful…there is a sense that everything we’ve spent our strength for is pointless. Some even feel that their whole lives have been a failure, that they’ve been unappreciated and undervalued…even by their children… that the good things they’ve tried to do just haven’t worked out. The prophet’s stance is instructive for us. He says that even though he feels like he’s labored in vain, he wouldn’t change a thing, because he’s been on the right side, his cause was with the Lord. May that be our consolation in our moments of doubt. Faithfulness is its own reward! It is enough to have served the living Lord!
Thought for the Day: What does it feel like to labor in vain?