September 7, 2016

Jeremiah 31:16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”

declares the Lord.

This is an enormously comforting verse that probably every Christian worker needs from time to time. It brings to mind Psalm 126:5. “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” The Bible actually has many passages about both tears and rewards, and one of the important points of heaven, repeated twice in Revelation, is that God will personally wipe away every tear. (Revelation 7:17, 21:4) A line from a secular song says, “I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden.” When we insist on things being easy we miss out on most of life! One of my most frequently quoted Scriptures is John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Life on this earth has many joys, but it also has many struggles and sorrows. It is always our choice what we focus on. If we focus on the trouble, we will be miserable. If we focus on the Lord, we will have peace and joy. One powerful de-motivator is the feeling that all our efforts aren’t accomplishing anything. That is a major issue in Japan, which has far and away the lowest “return on investment” of any field of evangelism in the world. However, the field is not without fruit, and we are called to faithfulness, not flash. Patience is a prime requirement for anyone who would serve the Lord, but especially so in Japan.

This is of course the story, not just of my life but of my family, since my parents were missionaries here before me. It was said of my father that the reason he had so much success as a school administrator, as well as trustee of the Japan Baptist Convention and other such positions, was that he could “out-sit his opponents.” That is, he could be patient until they came around to his position. Even so, on at least one occasion he prostrated himself on the floor before the Lord and cried out, “Lord, if I am what is keeping revival from Japan, then take me out of the way!” I can certainly identify with that! God’s many promises of reward for my labors, here and elsewhere, seem ephemeral at times. If I limit myself to what my senses and intellect tell me, then I will live in discouragement and depression. However, in Christ I can rejoice! Just yesterday I found out that someone to whom I have been ministering for several years in the Prefectural Mental Hospital will be discharged this month, and he repeated to me his commitment to follow Christ only. That makes up for a lot of struggles! He won’t be living in this immediate area, so he won’t be an addition to this church as such, but there is a good church close to his home which I recommended to him, and he has certainly been added to the family of God. I am indeed to rejoice in such things, and trust God with His resolution to everything, for His glory.

Father, thank You for the victories I do see, however small they might seem at the moment. Help me trust You indeed with everything, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You, just as You have told me to do, so that nothing will hinder my availability to You, for Your perfect will to be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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