Serving the Lord can be hard work. And that hard work can come with much pain and suffering.
So how do we get through the pain and keep on serving the Lord?
One way is by remembering that it is our duty and privilege to serve the Lord in whatever sphere he places us.
Jesus told this parable to illustrate the mindset we should have of Christian service: ‘Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Would he not rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty”’ (Luke 17:7-10).
I’ve never plowed a field, but I’m sure its hard work. So what keeps a plowman at his work? Remembering that it is an honour to have the work.
We may grumble and complain about our jobs. We don’t like the work, we don’t like the clients, we don’t like the fellow workers, we don’t like the boss. But when someone is unemployed they begin to understand the privilege that it is to have a job, no matter how tough it is.
Similarly, serving the Lord can be tough and we often feel a temptation to grumble and opt out of the work. God often calls us to do work that drains our energy. He often calls us to work under harsh conditions with little encouragement. He even calls us to work with people we don’t like or persecute us.
But we must remember that we are unworthy servants. We do not deserve to be God’s workmen. We have rebelled against our master many times and continue to do so. But he continues to keep us on the payroll and uses us for his kingdom.
John the Baptist was a great figure in church history. Many people respected him and thought he was a wonderful man of God. But what did he say about his worthiness for his task? We read in Luke’s gospel: ‘The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them’ (Luke 3:15-18).
Untying someone’s shoes was a demeaning dirty job that few would do for others. Yet John knew that he was unqualified even to untie Christ’s shoes.
So when you suffer for doing God’s work, do you remember that it is a privilege to be in his service. That you are not worthy for the work, but he uses you anyway? Does this help you endure whatever work he gives you, no matter how painful?