Our pastor's weekly worship email seemed particularly applicable to the struggle barlow_girl and I face and what it looks like to be faithful in it. Particularly as my life's patterns of failure appear to be recurring yet again, it's good to be reminded of what is true, so I'm including the text below.
Faith, prayer and obedience are what are required of us. We are not offered, in exchange, immunity and exemptions from the world's woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether.
The Apostle Paul had an amazing encounter with the risen Christ. This led him to commit his life to the spread of the gospel. One of the many churches he planted was the one in Corinth.
As we have seen over the past two months, the church in Corinth had deteriorated into a mess. Cliques, factions, sexual sin, narcissism, and gross spiritual immaturity now marked this congregation that he had labored over. The people in the church began to question Paul's own calling and pastoral abilities.
Can you relate to the profound downward pressure this painful loss would exert on Paul?
What do you do when something you have diligently labored for begins to disintegrate right before your eyes and swirl down the drain? Maybe it's a vocation or direction in the world that has never quite gotten off the ground. Maybe it's a child you have raised who is straying from the faith. Maybe it's a marriage you have poured your life into that is now crumbling.
What do you do? Do you sink under the oppressive weight of failure and loss? Do you re-imagine yourself, changing zip codes and your circle of friends?
What Paul instructs us to do is to sink our hearts into the hope of our future resurrection. As Christians we do not live for this life. We live for the life to come—the life of the resurrection.
The striking thing about what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 is that not only should we "endure" or "hang in there." He tells us to "abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain."
In other words, we are to keep believing, praying, and obeying. We are to believe that somehow our labors in this life will bear fruit in the life to come—even if our labors at the moment seem to swirl down the drain into oblivion.