“Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest of joy. For though they may weep while going forth to plant their seed, if they persevere, they will undoubtedly return rejoicing—bringing their sheaves with them.” ~ Psalm 126:5-6
I am confident that everyone reading this has had a moment in their life when they felt like things didn’t quite work out the way they hoped. You put all of the right ingredients in the mix, measured it twice, set the temperature to the requisite degree, and the cake still fell. There are times when you knew in your heart (or at least you thought you did at the time) that you were doing the right thing but somehow you felt that justice was not served. We as humans are deeply results oriented. We’re hasty to examine and judge our lives according to where we feel we ‘should be’ at a certain point in our life, or by what other people have, or by measurements of success that involve climbing some imaginary ladder of achievement. I truly believe that in this area we have our priorities mixed up, and to our detriment. We’ve actually let what we see inform our self image, even though we’re to walk by faith and not by our natural senses. That’s backwards. We look at things like our titles, what we own, our bank account, our marital status… or lack of any of this stuff, and we think that God must be punishing us or that we must have done something wrong. Unfortunately, most of us are using the wrong measurement devices altogether.
If we’re going to be measuring anything it should be obedience, not results. Obedience is what God requires of us; the rest is up to Him. When we do what He asks us to do, He’s responsible for making it all make sense. Tangible results will inevitably flow from a life of obedience. Our job is to keep sowing. His job is to make things grow. As a side note, if you’ve been obedient and disciplined in an area of your life for a long time and nothing has changed, you might want to check again with God for the directions. But even with that, very few people actually stick with something long enough to see the manifestation of their obedience. That’s like going to the gym once and checking in the mirror right away to see what has changed. It takes time! Stick with it.
There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. Even though your actions might not yield the immediate results you’re hoping for, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. One of the most difficult concepts for us humans to grasp is that of delayed gratification. We want things right away. It’s challenging for us to see things down the road when there are pressing concerns right in front of us. Right now you could be faced with a hard decision to uphold your character and integrity even when it would be more convenient to do things the easy way; do the right thing. Doing things God’s way is not always fun. My challenge for us is to remain obedient even when it hurts. In the long run it has to pay off.
Successful people are just willing to do the small things that nobody else wants to do. They don’t stop or give up because something is too hard. And it’s not that they even enjoy those disciplines more than anyone else, it’s that they’re willing to adhere to the disciplines despite how they feel because they know what a disciplined life produces. As verses from Psalm 126 at the top of this entry say, even though you might be crying while you do the work, the people that persevere will undoubtedly come back carrying evidence of their victory and with joy in their hearts. The race is not to the swift, nor to the strong, but to the faithful. Keep sowing, especially when it hurts.