“Some faced jeers and flogging while still others were chained and put in prison. Many were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:36-38).
Day in and day out, Isaiah faithfully preached the truth to an obstinate nation. He was called to an exhausting and discouraging ministry. The Lord shared so many words of warning for him to give the people, but still they would not repent. God’s Words brought a message of hope, renewal, and blessing if only they would turn away from their idolatry and worship the Lord. Sadly, most of the people remained disobedient, and thus they incurred great destruction and persecution. They refused to let the Shepherd guide them out of darkness into light.
Perhaps you are the stubborn one God is persistently trying to reach and open your eyes to the truth, but you refuse to surrender and follow Him. I plead with you to wait no more. Turn to the One who loves you more than any other in this world. Place your trust in God who created you, has been with you since your conception, and came to earth and died on the cross so you can have forgiveness, a new life on earth, and eternal life in His Presence.
Maybe you are an “Isaiah” who is being asked to steadfastly proclaim God’s message of salvation and love to those living in darkness. You are being called to press on in the fight to follow Him daily even when the battle seems to never cease and your circumstances never improve. Just as He did with Isaiah, God calls you to persevere. “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 the problem, isn’t it? We wear out and give up before we have a chance to reap the harvest. Imagine if a farmer did this. He tirelessly works day in and day out in his fields, but it seems that nothing is growing. Thus, in the winter, he gives up and leaves the farm. Meanwhile, when spring comes, the crops come up. But now there is no farmer to harvest the field and all the produce is wasted.
I will never forget meeting a small group of persevering missionaries. We all lived in the same country, but these men and women were serving on a highly prestigious campus where only the brightest in the nation had the opportunity to study. When they tried to talk to these students, they were laughed at and mocked. They were threatened that they would be turned in to the authorities and kicked out of the country. However, rather than quitting and going to a place where the “soil was more fertile,”they decided to spend their time taking prayer walks several times a day around the campus to ask God’s Spirit and His holy angels to come and break up the fallow land. They prayed for individuals as they walked by the dormitories. They reached out to help students with their English language skills. They served those around them any way they could. After one year, they still saw no one turn to Christ. Their mission board asked them to relocate but they felt called to stay. The second year, the same thing happened. In the fall of the third year, they continued their daily prayer walks, but a strange and wonderful thing happened. Students began to come to their dorm and ask them to tell them about Jesus. Within three weeks, fifteen students became Christians. By the end of the semester, forty-five young men and women gave their lives to Jesus Christ and joined their Bible studies.
From this story I learned that it is not enough just to “hang in there.” We must accompany our persistence with tenacious prayer! “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). Whatever the Lord puts on your heart to do, if you trust in Him, He will empower you and use you to accomplish His purpose. Like Isaiah, persevere in your service to God for this is an act of worship that glorifies Him. Though His work is not always visible, He is attentive to our cry and is doing things far beyond what we can hope or see. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Today’s Bible Reading: Galatians 6:9; James 5:16; Ephesians 3:20; Isaiah 50:4-5
An excerpt from Mission Impossible written by Sue Corl