I’ve been working in evangelism and cross-cultural missions and outreach for half my life now. In all this time, I’ve seen one person come to repentance and faith. I am so thankful for the blessed memory of that experience; actually seeing someone repent and believe. The Lord was so gracious to give me such encouragement. Here is a summary of the responses of the rest of the people I’ve talked to in 20 plus years. Several have angrily screamed at me, calling me terrible names, saying that they never ever want to hear about God and the Bible again. Some have told me firmly that they refuse to discuss religion; that they will have nothing to do with God. Some were only pretending to be interested in Jesus and salvation, but they were merely leading me on in order to try to get something else out of me, like money. Many have been entirely apathetic to spiritual reality. And some were open to the message of the Gospel, and heard it with joy, but I have no idea what God has done with them since we parted. (I don’t know if they repented and believed the Gospel.) So am I discouraged? I was for about ten minutes. Then the Lord reminded me of His faithfulness.
Our wonderful God encourages us Himself, through His Word and His Spirit. In Haggai, the people were comparing the new temple with the previous one and it did not look very impressive. It is so easy for us to compare our work for the Lord with others’ work, or to compare the results of our work now, with the results of our work that we did in the past. It’s easy to think we have accomplished nothing in comparison. God is the one who brings whatever results of our labor. He will show us the results of our work at the proper time (1Cor.3:8, 2Cor.5:10). But no matter how small our work for Him may seem to us, God is pleased and glorified when we work for Him:
..”rebuild the temple that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. Hag.1:8
God exhorts His people to have courage, be strong, have zeal, press on, work hard, persevere and have trusting faith in His promises and His presence:
“But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozakak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’ Hag.2:4-5.
He gives courage. He gives strength. He is with us, even His Holy Spirit. He Himself will fill what work we do with glory!
‘I will fill this house with glory’, says the LORD of hosts. Hag.2:7.