Have you ever been discouraged when God called you to do something?
The summer I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Puerto Rico with my church’s youth group. My youth group was serving in the city of Guayama, along with a few other youth groups from around the country and from Puerto Rico.
Everyone was broken into smaller groups of approximately 10 students and leaders, and our goal for the week was to assist in construction projects around the city. My group had the task of repairing an elderly couple’s roof, but we mostly served as assistants to city workers that had been hired to do the majority of the work.
Sure, we had some small projects to do, like mixing concrete and cutting the couple’s grass with machetes (I also had my first encounter with fire ants that week). But most of the time, we found ourselves without work to do. The city workers didn’t need much assistance, and as grateful as they were for our offers of help, there wasn’t a lot that a group of high schoolers were able to do.
Then entered the discouragement. I remember one afternoon when an adult leader sat down next to me. Shaking their head, they said, “I just don’t get it. There’s nothing for us to do. Why are we here?”
The same spirit of discouragement could be found among everyone in the group. I remember praying to God in that moment. I was frustrated, as I wanted to help and I felt that there was nothing to do for the remaining four days of the trip.
Have you ever had a moment when God had called you to serve Him in a particular way, only to be met by discouragement or frustration? I’m not talking about when we try to make things work that God hasn’t called us to do. I’m talking about when we are genuinely in His will. In these moments, we wonder, “is it worth it? Is all the effort I’m putting forth making a difference? Is even one person being affected?”
I think of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15. In this parable, Jesus says the following:
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
When God calls us to serve Him, we have to trust Him with the results of what we do. And when we encounter moments of discouragement and we wonder if what we’re doing is making a difference, we have to ensure that our hearts and attitudes are correct. We have to remember that it’s not about numbers or greatness. Serving God doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to help everyone in the world.
Sometimes, it’s simply changing one person’s world. And if it’s what God has called us to do, even if we’re not aware of the effects of our actions, is it not worth it? Is the one sheep not worth it as well?
So, how does my story end?
Beautifully. Minus the part where I threw up in the airport the day we were going home, and then I realized I had lost my plane ticket as we were boarding the plane. But that’s a story for another time…
For the rest of the week, we walked around and visited with people in the neighborhood, being invited into their houses so that we could pray for them.
My favorite opportunity was that we met a young man, in his early 20s at the time, when we were playing basketball during our lunch breaks. He joined us for lunch each day of the week, staying not only for basketball, but also for the devotional that we did. After speaking with him one day, we learned that he was homeless. We were able to create a large basket of food, toiletries, a Bible, and information for different resources that he could access. After we gave him this, we had the opportunity to have deeper conversations about God and the gift of salvation.
Had we continued with our plans and with what we wanted to do, we would have missed incredible opportunities to share the Gospel because of working on the roof project. That week, I learned that when God calls me to do something, even if it doesn’t make sense or I feel discouraged, it is worth it because of who it impacts.
I pray that this story was a source of encouragement for you. Whatever God has called you to do, no matter how big or small it may seem to you, it can make a drastic impact in someone’s life.
And sometimes, it’s about doing it all for the one.