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Growing Weary in Doing Good

Karen and I had four small children and she was pregnant with Leah. Coming out of business school I had followed a call to ministry. For the last two years, I had poured out my life to build the ministry. And suddenly I was out of a job. It was an anxious time. “How am I going to take care of …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Karen and I had four small children and she was pregnant with Leah. Coming out of business school I had followed a call to ministry. For the last two years, I had poured out my life to build the ministry. And suddenly I was out of a job.

It was an anxious time. “How am I going to take care of my family?” I wondered. Mostly I thought, “Ministry is tough. I should probably just pull back and focus on the needs in front of me.”

In the back of my mind was a deeper question, “Can I trust God?” I honestly didn’t know. I was at the end of myself.

With bills to pay, it was a time of urgency. But I felt stuck – I couldn’t help repeatedly processing the last season. “What should I have done differently?” I asked. And easy answers eluded me.

I needed God to make sense of it. But I had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted more from me than I would be able to give. 

As I was reading the Bible one day, this verse jumped out at me, “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

I couldn’t escape the sensation that God was speaking directly to me. “That’s me God – I am weary of doing good,” I thought. “Doing good is impossible when your tank is empty. I don’t even know what it is to do good is any more.”

I knew I was at a crossroads. I wasn’t growing weary, I was weary. Was he telling me to ignore how I felt?

No, but he was asking me to choose not to stay in that place of emptiness, choosing instead to move to a better place. He was inviting me to take a fresh look at my life and the way I defined my call.

In fact, as I dug into it, I realized that he was saying three specific things: 

1. Hang in there – this is just a season

Inside I was asking the question, “Is it time to quit?” It is a question that young people seem to ask more frequently than their elders. They have fewer things tying them down. Breaking off commitments is easier.

Have you asked that question lately? You feel like perhaps you made a mistake taking this path you’re on. You feel like perhaps you’re not cut out for it. God wanted me to know that my feeling discouraged was not the same as him asking me to leave the ministry.

Perhaps he wants you to know the same thing. We all get discouraged, but usually he wants us to feel the discouragement and keep going.

He wants to show us that we have more gas in the tank than we thought was there. When you feel weary and the tank is reading “E” for Empty, feelings may not equate to reality. There may be more fuel left than you realize.

God wants us to understand that there are seasons to life. If you’re going through a setback, you need, above all, to put that setback in context. To know that you’re not alone and that this sense of failure should not define you.

God’s timing can be so hard to understand. We get exhausted in the short-term. We feel bone-weary. We have no reserves left. And yet there’s no space for resting. It feels thankless, but God tells us, “Hang in there, it will be worth it.”

2. You have a bright future

Not only is the present difficult time just a season, but in comparison, the future looks really good. It’s something worth fighting for. The short-term weariness needs to be placed in the context of the long-term rewards you’ll reap.

Often when we are discouraged, the valley we are in can look monumental. We need to know that there are mountains on the other side and that they are worth the valley experience. Seeing how bright the future is gives us the encouragement we need to push through.

3. Long-term fruit requires perseverance

Many of the best things in life have a big price tag attached to them. Fruit comes after planting, watering, and harvesting.

Years after my experience, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You know that hard time where you were tempted to quit? That was your internship. It was just practice for the future. If you hadn’t been asked to leave your job, you wouldn’t have graduated from the internship. You might still be there.”

What a profound realization! Once I got out of the victim mentality and saw that the pain of rejection was misplaced, things made sense. And through it all God was saying to me, “Your life is not about meeting your own needs – there’s more to life than that. Trust me.”

God made us to help others, and yes, it can be costly. People disappoint us – we should expect them to. We must remember that the good things in life require character. You have to keep showing up over time.

We all need to know that we are working for a long-term purpose that may not take shape this year or the next. There is wonderful fruit in your future. But you will only understand its real value over time as you pay the price it requires.

Let me ask you, my reader to pause and reflect a second. Where are you in life? Are you feeling under-appreciated? Wondering about that call of God you thought you had?

It is a precious thing. It requires grit and commitment to see the fruit that God wants to give you. The world is waiting. You play to an audience of one. Don’t confuse setbacks and the weariness they produce with God’s long-term call.

He is whispering to you, “Don’t grow weary, for in due season you will reap.” 

Comments (25)

  • I believe this was very timely written for my family. Thank you for letting God use you in this post as a pencil that we used to write this. We’ve had a tough last couple of months, and at the same time exciting. The road in the next couple of months will be the same but we know it’s a season of change, transition, and trusting Him in it all. Thanks Seth.

  • Perfect timing for me Seth. Great thoughts here and great words to think about. It really gives a better perspective on life to take a step back.

  • Also timely for my family, as I think of my son in particular who is facing some tough days ahead, with a court date next week. He feels like his life is over, that he has no hope and ho future. He hasn’t had an encounter with God yet and is stuck in pretty abysmal thinking. I ponder if I made the right choices that interplayed with where he is now. I am clinging to God for the long haul on this one; there is no other way. There is much in what you write that applies to both of us, me as I pursue my call relentlessly, and for Matt as I pray he hears how much God loves him; he is feeling lonely and pretty rejected. A lot of anger an bitterness there too. Prayers appreciated. Shalom.

  • I’ve seen such growth in you, Hugh. As you’ve stepped thru difficult seasons, he’s given you greater perseverance and capacity. You encourage me!

  • Melinda, that has to be the most encouraging thing I’ve heard in a long time. At the time I was just focused on survival. Watching you step into hard places and keep going for it has been an inspiration. I pray that you and David are well over in Mozambique.

  • Hi Kathy,
    My son is in a similar state (courts, anger, bitterness, loneliness, rejection, no hope, no future). He had a little encounter with God in January, but is holding back. I keep asking God to stay with him, draw him to Himself & hopefully be able to find willing believers to reach out & speak into his life (doesn’t want to hear Mom).
    Prayers for your son!

  • Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for reaching out with prayers and encouragement. I pray for the same things, and actually in May when he was still living in his car, he got a job working for a produce stand that is owned by a Christian family, the husband who is a former pastor, who has prayed for Matt and is writing him a letter to take with him to court next week. I think Matt has likely had encounters also, but feels so burned (his ex girlfriend got pregnant, perhaps not so accidentally and has not allowed him to see his child born in June) so it is very difficult for him to trust. He did tell me one night that he had prayed for the first time when it didn’t feel weird…but then wasn’t accepted into drug court, and got angry again…sigh.
    I will pray for your family also.
    Shalom, we are all part of God’s family and community, our sons also.

  • Needed that.

    Tired, stressed and way too much to do for the time I currently have.

    Thank you for the much needed perspective.

  • “Don’t grow weary,
    for in due season you will reap.”I’ve read this just when I was about to give up.Thanks do the reminder Seth may God bless you.

  • Seth this is so encouraging to chronicle your path the vast majority of which I have known. Your commitment along with Karen to keep growing is a blessing to me and so many others.

  • Hello enjoy to be here with you and send my opinion in blessing with new vision in to move on in strong mind in with rest and in peace to glory for God and let all waeriness go in Jesus name and let the HOly Spirit quard us in Jesus name and be our strength in duty with the word of God,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

  • The LORD just gave me this scripture the other day in my devotions, have been trying to open my heart and let someone in. I always seem to get stuck?hit a wall!! this is encouraging thanks I would appreciate prayer for Ruth and mys elf as GOD grows us

  • Thanks for the encouraging word. Very timely in this season of global weirdness with COVID. May your heart also be encouraged as we press on!

  • You’re welcome, Angela. I wrote this 6 years ago about a time I experienced 30 years ago. I need to post it again. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • How you walked through that time modeled real Christianity to me. I was young and didn’t know the half of it, and you didn’t really know me, but I was noticing. You made an impression for the Kingdom, and this reminds me once again that we often have no idea who is watching, but our lives are testifying of His presence or absence in our difficulties. Thank you for choosing to cling to Him and walk in His character. Emotionally and materially, it was probably brutal at times, but know that the fruit God brought forth from that time even extends beyond your field. Kingdom economics.

  • seth , well said. But after 45 years of full time missions , I’m still not clear
    when my internship ends. God is still teaching me new ways of authentic
    Christ honoring ministry to the least ,the lost , the left out and the lame. God is also teaching me ways to practice what I preach.
    After an overwhelmingly successful community wide campaign of prevention , treatment and education about Chichangunia here in the DR .We saw a 70% reduction in contagion . Guess what I have been sick in bed here for 8 days having caught ? Yup ! Our doctor was kidding me today that I should have been listening a little better in her class.
    Healers risk infection. Sometimes the diseases are insecurity ,loneliness and discouragement. Remember, ” life’s an adventure, or its nothing ”

    • Thanks for your example, Jack. It is one of continual giving and doing so in the face of thing. You inspire many. I appreciate your friendship.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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