When I had my first child, I was in labor for sixteen hours. I pushed for three. But when the doctor said, “We have a little Josiah,” it was all worth it to me.
Birthing a child is hard work. That’s why they call it labor.
Being on mission with God and building His kingdom is also hard work. Arming ourselves to fight, praying in the Spirit, fasting, and contending for the faith take a lot out of us. Sometimes we get discouraged, and it’s hard to continue the labor.
Today, the Lord is saying, “Don’t give up. Your labor is not in vain.”
Your Labor Is Not in Vain
The word work means “to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous, repeated operations” (Merriam-Webster, online).
When I worked in catering, there were days that were long, hot, and stressful, “requiring sustained effort.” Just when we all thought we couldn’t stand on our feet another minute or bear the work any longer, my boss would say, “Come on, girls. Just give me one more hour.”
When we knew there was an end in sight, we could push just a little harder.
Our world seems to be out of control right now. People are hurting, confused, and angry. Everywhere we turn, we see evil and darkness.
Sometimes I think there’s no way my little prayers make any difference. And then I remember God’s Word, and I am strengthened once again.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”James 5:26b
God is raising up an army of intercessors who will stand in the gap for the souls of unbelievers, for ministries and communities, for missionaries and churches, for the soul of our nation. We have to arm ourselves for battle and pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).
But the battle is intense, and we often grow weary when the heat gets turned up.
When we grow tired in the battle, we need to call in reinforcements.
In Exodus 17, we read the story of a battle that took place between the Israelites and the Amalekites. As long as Moses held up his hands, symbolizing their complete dependence upon God, the Israelites were winning.
But when Moses’ hands grew tired, the Amalekites were winning. So Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held his hands steady until sunset, and the battle was won. Reinforcements.
Sometimes, we need someone to come alongside us and agree with us in prayer and intercession. Don’t see it as a sign of weakness if you have to ask for more intercessors to join you in the work of prayer. Call in reinforcements when the battle becomes too much for you on your own.
Find a few Spirit-filled friends and join together in crying out to God. Your voices raised together in agreement will strengthen your faith and encourage your persistence.
When we don’t see results from our prayers, we need to pray and trust.
In Daniel 9-10, the angel Gabriel visited Daniel to explain to him that as soon as Daniel had begun to pray, an answer was given, but the angel was resisted in the heavenly realm by the prince of Persia, a spiritual power of darkness. This battle went on for twenty-one days until the archangel Michael came to help.
We have no idea what is happening in the spirit-realm when we begin to pray, but I can promise you the forces of hell will not sit by quietly while we storm heaven on behalf of the lost or pray for revival in our churches and our nation. We don’t see the cosmic battle that takes place in the heavenlies, so we need to be patient even when we see no visible results. We need to pray and trust that God is working on our behalf.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”Romans 15:13
When we are tempted to back off in prayer, we need to remember the war is already won.
Seriously, we fight from a position of victory.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”1 Corinthians 15:57-58
This Scripture comes in the context of the resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death, hell, and the grave. That, my friends, is the victory of the ages, and no devil in hell can stop an army of believers who will give themselves to the work of the Lord. Do. Not. Give. Up.
I love this note in the NIV Study Bible on this verse:
“Our effort is invested in the Lord’s winning cause. He will also reward us at his second coming (Mt 25:21; cf. Lk 19:17)” (1758).
You see, even though our arms may grow tired or eyes may not see the answers or our faith may begin to falter, the effort is worth it. Because of what Jesus has accomplished at Calvary, when we work to build His kingdom and not our own, we are investing our time and effort on the winning side.
Not only will we one day see the result of our praying, fasting, and believing, but Jesus will reward us for our faith.
Our labor is not in vain.
When we feel as if we are not making a difference, we press on. When the answers don’t seem to come, we press in. We push and we labor and we work hard because we are working for a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Our families, our churches, and our communities are worth it.
We continue to pray and believe and do good to those around us. We reach out to the hurting with love and encouragement. We may not be able to reach everyone, but we can reach those God puts in front of us.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”Galatians 6:9
So, the next time you begin to feel the pushback from the enemy, don’t be intimidated. Just lift your head a little higher and remember whose you are. You belong to the King. You are working for the Kingdom.
And I can hear Him saying, “Come on, girls. Just give me one more hour.”