When the people don't listen!

As a Pastor, I can completely understand what's it's like when you seem to have put in a lot of time and effort into building up your congregation and shaping your people, and you don't see the fruit coming out in the way it should. The disappointment and discouragement within - what is it like - I can completely relate with.  

I was reading Isaiah chapter 8. The prophet has preached faithfully and warned the people of God. In verse 5, God comes and tells Isaiah that the "people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah", which was the only source of water supply for Jerusalem, representing the secret protection and provision of God. As a result they will be given into the hands of the King of Assyria who will flood the place of the people of God and will destroy it. Verse 15 further informs what will happen to the people of God and the place of God. 

How would have Isaiah felt? I am sure he considered himself more than just God's postman who delivers the message and feels his purpose is accomplished. Do we as pastors feel our job is complete and our purposes are accomplished when we finish preaching on Sunday? No! Of course not. We begin to hope and pray that what we have preached will soon begin to reflect in the character of our people. Our ears and eyes are open to hear and see the fruit of the labour of our preaching and all the preparation that goes behind it. 

Similarly, Isaiah would have wanted in his heart that the people must pay some heed to his warnings and preaching. But he sees that the people do not want to listen and do not care about the will of God. But what was Isaiah's response once God confirmed that He is going to let the people have their way and bear the consequences. He doesn't resign. He does not give up. He does not lose hope. He knows the God he speaks for. 

Look at verse 17 of chapter 8. He says, " I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him." He knows well that God is going to hide His face from the people. But his hope for redemption is in the same Lord. He knows God will never leave His people.

As a pastor, I feel discouraged when my people don't listen to the Word of God (in realty, practically, beside sitting through my sermons). In such a situation, this gives me hope:

1. God is loving.  
2. The Word is powerful.  
3. The Holy Spirit is greatly involved in the building up of the Body.
4. People have always taken time to respond. They are sheep, going astray is their personality. Throughout the Bible we note this. Let us have patience. Poor Moses had the same pastoral care problems. His people don't listen all that easy and quick as he would have liked them to. But then we see the work of God through history. The people under Moses did reach the Land, and today we have our Saviour!! We are part of "all the families of the world that will be blessed!" 

Therefore, if I only continued giving my people the word of God faithfully, and rely on the Spirit of God to effect it in the lives of the people under my care, knowing that God is loving and faithful, I can rest. I have hope. Therefore, I can have peace, even today. 

As Isaiah "waited for the Lord", we pastors should also wait for the Lord to come and bless our ministries and our labor. 

God is alive and still almighty. That makes our ministries worth it. Keep at it. 

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58 

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