Serving In Vain, Not!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

We are in the season of Epiphany. As I had mentioned, Epiphany is the season in the liturgical church year that focusses on the life and teachings of Jesus. Especially during the time of Epiphany, I find myself thinking about how I would have reacted to Jesus and his teachings if I was among the crowds that he encountered.

Although the Bible passage for this week’s devotion comes from Isaiah, coul Christ have said these words, too? Have you said these words? Let’s top up our coffees and get started…

Readings for Jan. 19, 2020; Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42a

“I have laboured in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” Isaiah 49:4

Have you ever worked at something where you received no appreciation; where you felt in the end that it may have been a lot of time wasted? Perhaps it was for your employer, or your children or your spouse, or even your church? Although you may have been fulfilling your godly callings, there just didn’t seem to be any fruits of your labour, or even worse you received ridicule and hatred. Have you ever felt like that? In such situations it so easy to say, “Why do I bother? It’s all a waste of time. I’m labouring in vain!”


Well, you’re not alone. Isaiah said the very same thing. He knew he was called by God but he too felt at times that his service and proclamation of the Lord went seemingly unnoticed. Or if it was noticed by others, he received hostility in return. He knew how discouraging people’s actions could be towards his efforts of being God’s prophet. Yet, he didn’t let himself get caught up in how he felt. He did not equate people’s responses to the success of his efforts. On the contrary, despite what he physically experienced or felt, he trusted in the Lord to be the ultimate one to see his deeds and rejoice in them. He knew “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” (Psalm 118:8) It is better to seek the Lord’s approval and walk in his ways, than to rely on human approval.

In fact, is this not exactly what Jesus experienced too, especially over the last day of his earthly life. Over those last few hours, Jesus experienced the ultimate rejection by humankind and yet his purpose and actions lead to the ultimate success story on humankind’s behalf. Therefore, as we serve in all the God-given callings of our life- child, parent, spouse/partner, employer/employee, teammate, church member, etc.- may we remember that our work does not go unnoticed. Our God sees all you do in the name of Jesus, and he says over and over again, “Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

Prayer: Dear Lord, so often it feels like I serve you in vain. Help me to be faithful in all I do and not get discouraged. Help me to always put my hope in you and know without a doubt that my reward comes from you alone. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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