The same thoughts kept going round and round in my mind: “This is so unfair! The only thing I ever wanted was to make it good for everyone and now they treat me like this!” It was a situation where it felt that no one was thankful for what I did, and I started to become discouraged, thinking things like, “Why do I even bother? Nobody even sees it when I try so hard!” Then a verse came to me from Galatians 6:9 (NCV): “We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.”
This simple verse says a few things that really made me think about why I do things. First, it tells me that I should not “become tired of doing good”. Everything in me wanted to be discouraged, because it seemed like my efforts to bless others and pray for them did not help at all. So what was the point? But it is the second part of the verse that gives great hope: “We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time...” I realised that I just had to be patient!
The little sprouts
I thought of the time I tried to grow kitchen herbs. For days I carefully watered the little flowerpot, while it seemed like nothing at all was happening. And then, after a week, I suddenly started seeing the little sprouts. The sprouts grew into tiny little plants and the plants just kept growing. For something to grow, a lot has to happen in the hidden and it may seem like what we do doesn’t bring any results, but we have to be patient for those little sprouts to break through.
The third part of the verse gives me the condition for this process to succeed: “… if we do not give up.” If I give up, if I stop praying for someone, stop trying to bless them, or stop watering the soil and later the sprouts, nothing will happen. If the little plant doesn’t get any water and sunlight, the little sprouts will die. I must be active, without giving in to thoughts of discouragement, and just go on doing the good work that God is asking of me.
What drives me?
I must make sure that my motive is right, or I will become tired and lose courage. Why do I serve and bless people? Is it because I expect love and thankfulness in return? Or is it because it is what I believe God is asking of me, no matter how it is received by others?
It says in John 5:44 (BBE): “How is it possible for you to have faith while you take honour one from another and have no desire for the honour which comes from the only God?”
If I want people to thank me, then I will never be satisfied. After all, those around me have a human nature just like me and that means that we don’t always show our thankfulness. We don’t always see the small things that people do to make it nice for us, or how much work and effort it took. That doesn’t mean that people are unkind or unthankful. It’s just that they can only see part of the picture. If my happiness is dependent on them and how they react to my good works, then I am always going to be disappointed.
But there is another motive that I can have or pray for: that I only want to please God. If I have this motive, I can still be thankful that I got to serve God even if my hard work is criticised or not noticed, and that can be enough for me.
Being satisfied with getting God’s honour may not come naturally. Everyone likes to be thanked, and likes to hear or feel that people are thankful for them, but I can really pray that I can start doings things for God only. God will help me to do that, because that is what He wants more than anything. He wants me to be willing to serve Him from the heart, without needing someone to see what I have done or thank me for it.
God gives the growth
In the past, I would become discouraged when I didn’t see any “results” from my efforts to do good. Those sprouts just stayed hidden, deep in the soil and it seemed like it took forever for them to break through. Then, another verse came to me, 1 Corinthians 3:7 (CEB): “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.”
I must trust that God sees the big picture. And what is important is that I should make sure that I am interested in His work succeeding, not my own works. God knows what people need better than I do. He can see right “beneath the soil” of a person and see the little sprout that is hidden from my eyes.
So I can just keep praying with an upright heart and serve those around me as well as I know and understand, putting the whole situation in God’s hands and letting Him give the growth. I should work hard, and give God all the honour, otherwise He can’t use my work and then it will not bear any fruit.
I now have a much deeper longing to stand before God’s face and serve Him without demands or questions. I’ve seen many examples around me of people who have chosen to do that, and it has made them so happy and content. They wouldn’t be happy or content if they were still waiting for people to thank them for the things they do. These are examples that I want to follow, because I want to be just as happy, no matter how my situation, the people around me, or my feelings are - always happy, never having a “bad day”.
It is possible, as long as my only motive is to please God!