A common refrain I hear
in the pastoral conversations I have is the precise question, ‘What exactly is
going to be my reward for sticking this season out?’
It would be easy to say
to such people, just toughen up a little, you just need to be obedient, or do
you realise what the consequences would be for not doing God’s will? But such seasons
of life are tough.
They are. Why otherwise
would normally devoted followers of the Lord so willingly consider walking away
because bearing their cross is too hard, too long, too difficult. Their vision
for endurance, waned. Their purpose, withered. Their passion, stripped.
Blessed is every follower
of Christ to have arrived at the place where serious thought for abandoning God
is given because we feel so abandoned. Suffering is a painful reality that teaches
us what we otherwise could not learn; we don’t have the control over life that
we would like to think we have. God causes us to be there for a while. He knows
we would not learn otherwise. None of us thinks it’s too short of a time. At
the time we think it’s a blight on God, yet afterward we see it was simply a
blight on ourselves.
Well, the hard season isn’t centrally about reward. But our
heart must know and accept this truth, and none of us can convince another
person against their will. And truthfully, it’s only God who can change a
God gives us life —
the challenges, situations and opportunities
— and it is up to us to experience them all
as well as we can.
about reward, but not the kind of reward we crave. Occasionally faithfulness is
rewarded this side of death. Overwhelmingly faithfulness is rewarded on the
other side. But we don’t think about that this side. We should! That should be
our focus… one hundred years ago, and back through the pages of Christian faith’s
long history, eternity was the focus. It’s what the Bible says.
It can seem that
faithfulness doesn’t matter these days. That people are prepared to cut and
run. But in the long run faithfulness is the only thing that matters. On the final day.
Not even Jesus was
rewarded in this life for faithfulness, and His was a life unsullied. What
little, then, does reward for faithfulness mean, even if we are forgiven for craving