Faithfulness and discouragement

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By Joyce Holdread | PREVIEW Columnist

God doesn’t call us to “success”; He calls us to faithfulness, as a famous saint once said. But faithfulness on our part has an important element of, well, faith. We all go through times of discouragement and disillusionment, wondering if following our supposed “call” is making any difference whatsoever.

I recently read of two events in the lives of Christ-followers who were disheartened about the mission of their lives. 

The first was a music leader for a camp that served adults with developmental disabilities. She used music that contained scripture along with motions, hoping this would help any nonverbal participants to better take in God’s word. But, she wondered if teaching scripture in this way was really getting through to them. Later, while walking across the camp, she ran into one of the campers humming aloud to himself. When he saw her, his face broke into a big smile and he made the hand motions of the song she had taught them that same morning. With joy bursting inside and tears in her eyes, she joined him in the song with all the gusto of the remembered motions.

The second story is especially relevant to us as writers. The man had submitted a story for publication and not only was it rejected, but the “expert” advised him to walk away from the project entirely. He had spent years working on this story and now was asking God if he should give up writing altogether and find another way to use his gifts. During this lament, he was walking along a street toward downtown when a piece of litter lying in the gutter caught his eye. He bent down to examine it more closely and found a half-full package of pens. He removed the two pens that remained and discovered that they were his favorites: black ink, bold strokes, comfortable grip. What others may not have even noticed or else have seen as trash and passed by, he picked up and found the very instruments of writing. He interpreted this as a direct and tangible sign from God that he should continue writing. Coincidence? I think not.

Both stories are stunning examples of God’s faithfulness to us when we are discouraged and questioning the purpose for our lives. And, faithfulness should be reciprocal. As we experience God’s faithfulness, let us respond with enthusiasm to follow our calling — whatever that may be. Then, with true faith, let us set our egos aside, take our hands off and leave the results with God.