There come times in our lives when we feel discouraged, particularly when the task is great, the sacrifice significant, and we begin to question the value of our efforts. That was the case for the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Some 27 days after they had started the project, discouragement set in.
The prophet Haggai motivated the people by telling them to be strong, to build, and to not fear. He tells them to be strong, because the work is hard and difficult. He tells them to build, because the temptation to pitter out was great. He tells them to not fear, because fear evidenced their lack of trust in God. If we believe God is sovereign and in control, there is little reason to fear. (Haggai 2:1-5)
The prophet also gives them reasons to be strong, build, and not fear. He assures them that God is with them. He reminds them of God’s past faithfulness, by recalling their deliverance from slavery in Egypt by his mighty hand, their journey through the wilderness endured by his sustaining presence, and their entering into and taking possession of the Promised Land by his sovereign plan. Still, “My Spirit is standing with you,” he declares. He also reminds them that God is sovereign over all creation and over all geo-political affairs. No matter the bleakness of the current situation, he remains in control. (Haggai 2:4-9)
Are there times when you are discouraged in your efforts for God? Have you ever attempted to share the good news of Christ only to be rejected? In your attempts to follow God’s counsel to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and protect the vulnerable have you fears that your attempts have done little? Have you tried to obey the things that Jesus taught, placing the needs of others above your own and practicing integrity, only to watch those who took short cuts and crushed the weak advance themselves?
We may look at such efforts and become like those Jews of old and lament that our work seems to have accomplished little. But, be strong, Christian soldier. Keep working for the Kingdom, citizen of the King. Do not fear, follower of Christ. For the Lord your God goes with you, and your efforts accomplish so much more than you presently realize (cp. Haggai 2:6-9).
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