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(Part 197)


September 23, 2016

Today’s readings:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
Psalm 144:1-4
Luke 9:18-22

We do divine work, but we often judge the results of our work by human standards. When we give our all to God’s service, we at times wonder why the results are not as great as we would like them to be. It might even be that we feel the work is all in vain. We ask: “What profit have workers from their toil?” (Eccl 3:9).

This is a basic error. In doing divine work, our human minds simply cannot plumb into the very depths of the mysteries of God, and how God chooses to do things. Of course as His disciples, we “have seen the business that God has given to mortals to be busied about.” (Eccl 3:10). And for His disciples, God “has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.” (Eccl 3:11b). So we should stop judging the results of our work by human standards.

But God has revealed certain things to us. And God continues to reveal things, if only we open our hearts and minds. So we look to the truths we ought to know about God’s workings.

First, “there is an appointed time for everything” (Eccl 3:1a). Both positives and seeming negatives happen in our life and service. God has the perfect plan for us, and if we try to live according to His ways, then we must know that all things will work out for our good. For example, we might be disappointed in a meager harvest in our CLS, but that one or a few couples might be those God intends to use powerfully in the future, and God allowed us to give them more time and attention. Or we might face great oppression and persecution, but these can help bring us deeper in our relationship with God. We must simply know that “God has made everything appropriate to its time” (Eccl 3:11a), and we just need to trust in Him and eventually recognize the good.

Second, the work we do brings us directly into spiritual warfare, facing a powerful enemy. Do we then wonder that we can be beaten up, bloodied and even die? Some people have romantic notions about mission or work with the poor. But when we serve God in evangelization and social action, we assault the enemy. Thus we need to put on the armor of God. We need to pray to “the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war” (Ps 144:1). Only God can protect and empower us, as He is “my safeguard and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer.” (Ps 144:2a). Only God can give us the victory, as He is “my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” (Ps 144:2b).

Third, the one that is important is God and not us. We are mere instruments, unworthy ones at that. It becomes a problem when we become proud in our accomplishments for God, in which case God would then need to bring us down. We must know the truth: “Lord. what is man that you take notice of him; the son of man, that you think of him?” (Ps 144:3). We are nothing. “Man is but a breath, his days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4). The sooner we realize this, the better off we will be, as we will no longer demand things from God or judge His actions with our limited human mind.

Fourth, we are called to live the gospel of the cross. Not the prosperity gospel. Not the gospel of comfort and leisure. Not the gospel of power and position. We after all follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And he went all the way to the cross. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed” (Lk 9:22a). If we do not accept this, we will be greatly disappointed sometime in our life and service, when things do not go well, or when things go terribly wrong. We must embrace the cross of Christ. That is our privilege.

So the above truths help us to accept whatever appointed time for anything. These truths give us a deeper insight and appreciation of who God truly is and what He is about. But we will never know fully, for God is God and we are mere human flesh. That is, until we make it to heaven, where everything will finally become clear. Jesus was destined to “on the third day be raised.” (Lk 9:22b). As we follow him to the cross, we also follow him to eternal life.

Then will we fully realize what profit His workers have from their toil.

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