Of Kicks and Crowns

The fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness. – Galatians 5:22 NIV

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master. – Matthew 25:21 RSV

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. … the Master you are serving is Christ. –Colossians 3:23, 24 NLT

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

“I knew I shouldn’t have sent that manuscript evaluation before the guy paid me,” I grumbled to my husband one night at the supper table. “Now I’ll never get paid. What do I get for being nice? A kick in the pants.”

“No,” he said, with a knowing smile. “Another jewel in your crown.”

“And what about that book order I sent on good faith that the lady really did just put the check in the mail, like she claimed?” I continued, ignoring his comment. “Twenty-two bucks may not sound like a lot, but we could really use that money now.”

He grinned. “Another jewel in your crown.”

I wasn’t in the mood to hear about jewels in my someday crown. We needed money in our checking account. My freelance work wasn’t just slow—it had come to a screeching halt.

I thought of all the books and bookmarks I’d given away, the hours I’d spent—way more than I was paid for—painstakingly editing mediocre manuscripts because I felt each author deserved my best work. I thought of all the work I’d done gratis—articles written, workshops taught, manuscripts edited. I thought of all the recent opportunities for writing, speaking, and editing that had fallen through. I thought of the paying job doing something I loved that I gave up because I believed God called me to write full time. And now doors were slamming shut in my face.

Weren’t you supposed to be rewarded for doing the right thing and being faithful?

“You know the verse about ‘casting your bread on the waters and after many days, you’ll find it again’?” I said.

Sensing I was on a roll and nothing he could say would derail me, Dean didn’t even nod.

“Well,” I continued, “my bread must have gotten water-logged and sunk, or gobbled up by fish and fowl.”

Faithfulness isn’t easy. Especially when you’ve done all the Good Book says to do, and you don’t see the fruit of your labors.

When you’ve trained up your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and they choose not to follow it. When you’ve faithfully brought your tithe into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10), but the windows of heaven remain shut tight. When you’re kind, thoughtful, and pleasant to people, treating them the way you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), and they’re snippy, rude, and thoughtless in return.

Sometimes I get tired of doing the right thing. Of being the nice guy. Nice guys get taken advantage of. They get ignored, overlooked. They’re overworked and underpaid. And, like me, they sometimes become battle-weary and weak, vulnerable to doubt and despair.

We can give in or choose to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), remembering that “He who called us is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:24) and will keep His Word (Isaiah 55:11). Even when we’re faithless, God remains faithful because He cannot be false to Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

These days I find myself repeating the words of Jim Cymbala: “Though in my heart I’ve questioned, even failed to believe, He’s been faithful, faithful to me.”

How can I be any less?

Dear God, I’ve poured my heart and soul into what You’ve called me to do, but, for all my labor, I see little, if any, fruit. I feel like such a failure. Help me to persist and persevere in the face of disappointment and discouragement and to leave the fruit up to You. Remind me that You have not called me to be successful, but to be faithful. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Matthew 25:14–46.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Dealing with Uncertainty

Read and reflect on Romans 8:26–39.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV

I keep in touch with a number of high school classmates on Facebook. One of them recently posted his thoughts on the uncertainty of the times:

“You can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, you can.”

“Stores are closed, except those that are open.”

“Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.”

“The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.”

“You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you could be sick without symptoms, or have symptoms without being sick.”

Confused? I think we all are. Even the experts. While they’re trying to understand COVID-19, it seems this virus has a mind of its own and outwits them at almost every turn.

The only certainty these days, it seems, is uncertainty.

But despite all the ambiguity and uncertainty, there are things of which we can we certain.

I don’t know about you, but faith gives me certainty amid the uncertainty because it gives me focus. And I choose to focus on God:

First, I believe GOD IS IN CONTROL, and He knows what He’s doing. I don’t believe He sent the virus, but He’s using it to draw people to faith—saving faith and deeper faith. I believe He has a plan and purpose for everything, and will work all things together for good (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). Circumstances may be out of our control, but they are never out of God’s.

Second, I believe GOD IS FAITHFUL. He always does what He says He will do. You can trust Him completely. He is a promise maker and a promise keeper. The Bible is full of His promises. I recently started a Promise Journal in which I write the promises I find in God’s Word. I choose to focus on the faithfulness of God, not the numbers, the shortages, or the disease. Because I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, I can trust Him in the present and for my future.

Finally, I believe GOD SEES ME, HEARS ME, AND LOVES ME. That’s why, in times of need, I can go boldly, not timidly, to His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). And if that old enemy, doubt, comes sneaking around and tries to mess with my mind and heart, I whip out the sword of Psalm 139 (and other verses) and wield it. The Word of God is active and powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Resist doubt and it will flee (James 4:7).

Despite the uncertainty of these days, I can be certain of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and love.

And so can you.

Almighty God, thank You for the certainty You give me during these uncertain times. Thank You that I can cling to Your Word and have peace amid the pandemic. Amen.

EXTRA TEA: Job 38–41; 42:1–6;

Isaiah 55:8–11; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Philippians 4:4–8; Isaiah 49:15–16; Zephaniah 3:17

© 2020 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.