One of the greatest promises God gives – and one of the hardest to trust – is that God’s hand is in everything. How do we make that promise real?
“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (John 3:21)
We labor and toil with great hope and expectation while thinking that our hard labor will influence a positive outcome. And it does!
But who takes the credit for success? And who takes the blame when our labors appear unfruitful?
Whether entrepreneurs or artists, recent college grads or someone who has been grinding away at their job for years, many people are waiting for their big break – something that will launch them to capture their dreams. In these pursuits, we forget an important truth.
Big breaks often come in small packages.
God’s grace grants us the desires of our heart. His grace redirects dreams that come into line with his purpose for our lives. And sometimes that process is painful. God’s love and grace disciplines those he loves by providing a season of waiting or a period of loss when blessings are taken away. He prepares hearts to clearly see his hands at work to capture the joy of desiring God’s will – his dream – for our lives instead of pursuing our own.
Through our labors and toil, we rarely see everything that goes on behind the scenes or how God uses us for the small victories in life. Faith means trusting that God’s hand is in all things – whether big breaks or huge disappointments and anywhere in between.
Trusting in God’s promises impacts how we respond to his grace.
Trusting in his promises also impacts a gospel ministry.
This spring, I will be giving thanks to God for allowing me to serve twenty years in the ministry. During that time, I have noticed how ministry leaders respond to God’s grace in their ministry can be impactful in two completely different ways:
- Frustration and impatience can easily lead to despair when our expectations don’t match with God’s actions.
The signpost of frustration, unrealized dreams, and even despair appear when ministry leaders start going through the motions of ministry.
They appear in the following ways:
- We do what is more comfortable rather than what we need to do.
- We stop daring to hope because we hate being disappointed.
- We start saying things like, “Nothing surprises me anymore.”
- We become experts in cloaking our inactivity, especially when there is little accountability.
I have been guilty of all these things and continue to be tempted when I lack the fruit of patience or are processing disappointment. And perhaps you have too.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. With that victory — God promises that our work matters – because God gives that work to us and our work is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:56-58) He miraculously appoints us specific tasks that have been planned long ago for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10).
- Acknowledge God’s hand is in everything.
Success in ministry rarely comes in big packages.
Our work matters. Ministry leaders trust that our work matters to God too. Ministry leaders tend to wait for the “Big Break” as well. There is a strong temptation to look at “successful” churches with growing membership and ask, “Why not me?” When that doesn’t happen, we tend to struggle in trusting God’s hand in our ministry.
Disappointment or discouragement has a difficult time seeing small victories.
Several years ago, I started doing something that has had a profound impact on my work in the ministry. I kept an electronic journal on my Office One Note that faithfully recorded every small victory. Every positive and encouraging comment. Every task accomplished. Every uplifting text or email. Every blessing for that day was recorded. It could be ministry related or family related. It didn’t matter. I faithfully recorded and celebrated every small victory.
Something interesting happened as a result.
Over a period of several months, many small victories were adding up to reveal a big God. His hand was in everything. God was keeping his promises in my life and in my work.
When you clearly see God’s hand in the past, you are far more able to see his hand in the present, and trust his hand more boldly for the future. I have learned that defining success is not based on results, but celebrating the activity God gives me to do. There is joy in the work when we truly leave the results in his hands.
Trusting in God’s promises impacts how we respond to God’s grace. We discover that big breaks come in the small victories.