September 11 I Tuesday
2 Corinthians 4
“So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with Me, for I will not listen to you.” —Jeremiah 7:16
We must be careful of saying things like, “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” It is true God has a wonderful plan, but the part He calls us to play might not seem wonderful in the moment. When Hilary and I lived in England, there was one winter I was unable to tend our garden, so we hired a young man to help us once a week. I had a wonderful plan for this garden, but it was not a wonderful plan for him. He had to do the messy work of overturning soil and pulling weeds. By the time the flowers bloomed in the spring, he was long gone. He never got to see the fruit.
Jeremiah had one of the toughest tasks of any Old Testament prophet. He was called upon to minister in the 40 years before Babylon took the people of Judah into exile and was persecuted for it by his peers, rulers and fellow prophets. Jeremiah craved friendship, but God forbade him from marrying, attending parties or mourning at funerals. He had to stay distant and sombre to prevent giving the people a reason to dream of a bright future, celebrate or think that God might change His mind about the exile.
Perhaps the most challenging part was that after 40 years of tears, persecution, loneliness and faithful preaching, Jeremiah saw no fruit. When his secretary read his prophecies to King Jehoiakim, the king had the scrolls torn and burned. Jeremiah warned the people of Judah again and again about the judgment coming against them and urged them to repent, but no one would listen. He had at most three sympathizers, but no converts that we hear about. If Jeremiah had measured the success of his ministry by the fruit he saw, he would have thought himself a total failure.
What Jeremiah could not have known was that his prophecies would be preserved for thousands of years. People would wonder if Jesus was Jeremiah come again, and Christians throughout the centuries have been challenged, comforted and blessed by his writings. God gives some people the privilege of seeing a lot of fruit in their lives or ministries, but we must not take it personally if, like Jeremiah, we do not. More important than seeing the results of what we do is knowing God has called us to it. When God places us somewhere, He has a purpose He is going to work out, whether we see it or not. Our responsibility is simply to play our part in His wonderful plan because when God is at work, it is impossible for there not to be fruit.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, though it can be difficult to go on serving when I do not see fruit, help me remember that Your wonderful plan is so much bigger and better than anything I could imagine. Thank You, God.