"Then you will say in your heart, 'Who has begotten these for me,
Since I have lost my children and am desolate, A captive, and wandering
to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; But
these, where were they?'" (Is 49:21 NKJV)
Despite my best efforts to "keep my chin up", I couldn't stop the tiny tear from working its way down my cheek. And even less, the feeling of despair that had pitted itself in my chest.
What was causing this sense of utter despondency and discouragement? Just this: like any other human being, I desire meaning in my life. And like any true child of God, I love the Lord so much that I want to follow His command to spread the gospel message. I want my efforts for the Lord to positively impact the world around me. I couldn't see it happening.
Six months ago I didn't feel this way. What went wrong?
For the past several years, I have been privileged, as moderator of this newsletter, to watch it grow in leaps and bounds. Wow. And without advertisement of any kind, is that God, or what? True enough, there have always been many unsubscriptions, but all told, there are in general about three times as many subscriptions as unsubscriptions.
But then, about four weeks ago, the unsubscriptions began pouring in, in batches of 10 and 20 at a time. What was wrong? Was it something published in The Nugget? Was I not being open to God's leading? Was it simply an attack from the devil?
But if it was simply an attack from the devil, why wasn't God protecting it? No, it couldn’t be. It had to be something I was (or wasn't) doing...
The flow of unsubscriptions eventually slowed, and the subscriptions began to come in again, but for every two subscriptions, there were at least three unsubscriptions. I didn't understand, and I tried to open my heart even more to the workings of God's Spirit.
Gradually the subscription/unsubscription rate became equal, and then the subscriptions slowly began to gain ground. At least the subscriber list was moving in the upward direction, and for that I was thankful.
But then, yesterday, I again received twice as many unsubscriptions as subscriptions. Hence the feeling of discouragement that had lodged itself in the pit of my stomach.
Now I know what all of you are thinking out there: "What? You mean The Nugget subscribers are nothing more than mere numbers?"
Let me assure you that this is not the case. We care about each of your needs, and we pray for you all. However, being a human who wants validation that something she is doing is having a positive impact on the world, the numbers act as a way to gauge that impact. And in a moment of weakness, I couldn't help thinking, "God, I am being so inadequate as moderate of this newsletter! Perhaps You need to find someone else to be in charge!"
I believe that anyone in ministry understands what I was going through, and that's when God placed the words of Isaiah 49:21 on my heart: "Then you will say in your heart, 'Who has begotten these for me, Since I have lost my children and am desolate, A captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; But these, where were they'"
You see, from a human perspective, we are so easily discouraged. We don't see the "big picture". We only see the tiny portion that is in front of our face, and when that picture isn't pretty, we become dishearted.
But God doesn't ask us to worry about the fruit of our labours, does He? In the parable of the sower (See Matt 13:4-9), He simply tells us to sow seed. True enough, some seed will fall on hearts hardened by the world. It will be unable to sprout, and wild creatures will come and eat it. Other see will fall in shallow hearts, hearts that will grasp the message for a moment, but when distractions come, will let it fall. Still other seeds will fall amongst the deceptions of the world and it will be squelched before it can truly take root. But God doesn't tell us to keep the seed just for the "good soil". He simply tells us to sow seed! The growth of the seed is God's problem, not ours!
So should I worry about the rash of unsubscriptions?
Not as long as I am open to God's leading in this ministry.
And whatever it is that you are doing for the Lord, if it doesn't appear to be growing fruit, don't be discouraged. You never know when something you've said or done will influence someone, sometimes years later, for the Lord. And someday, every devote servant of the Lord will look out and say, just as was prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah: "Who has begotten these for me, Since I have lost my children and am desolate, A captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; But these, where were they?" (Isaiah 49:21)
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.