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.”