We live in a very results-oriented culture. When we put forth effort, we want to see results–and see them right away. If we’ve changed our diet and are exercising but the scale is not budging or our clothes are as tight as ever, we get discouraged. If our monetary investments don’t produce income or, worse, take a nose dive, we consider rearranging our portfolio. If we perceive that something we’re doing is ineffective, we take a good hard look at punting Plan A and moving to Plan B.
Given our desires for results, it’s no wonder that living a Christian life can be such a struggle at times. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but God’s economy is not the same as ours. Results don’t always come right away. In some cases, we can pray about something for months, even years, and not get answers. We can invest time and energy into friendships that don’t seem to yield any fruit. That’s frustrating and difficult to accept. The key word for me here is “seem”. Just because I don’t see evidence that my prayers are breaking through the ceiling up to God’s ears or that I am impacting the lives of those around me, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. Things are not necessarily what they seem.
Not too long ago I was reminded of something I had done for someone years ago. It was such a minor thing to me that I had long since forgotten about it, but they had not. I needed that reminder that my words and actions do have an impact, whether I’m aware of it or not. Remembering that helps spur me on to keep on praying about a difficult situation that seems hopeless. It encourages me to continue to invest in the lives of those around me even when I’m not seeing any changes.
We never know what God may be doing behind the scenes, how He is moving in our lives right now even though we feel stagnant. We don’t know what relationships He may be using to mold us, what prayers He may be answering in unexpected ways, what losses He is preparing to turn into gains. The Christian walk is scary at times, and exciting at times, and anything but predictable. In the face of such unpredictabilities, I’m thankful for the assurances that God will never leave or forsake us, and that He can work all things for good, and that He is able to immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. Some days, when I feel like my life is extraordinarily unproductive, I cling tightly to these promises. Praise God that things are not always what they seem.