“The work of a true missionary is work indeed, often very monotonous, apparently not very successful, and carried on through a great and varied but unceasing difficulties.” Missionary to China, Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
Taylor made this statement regarding missionary work specifically, but his observations apply to disciples of Jesus everywhere. Life moves at a mundane pace. Evidences of success often elude even the most faithful of God’s followers. Difficulties and challenges distort perspective and drag zeal downward more often than most of us would care to admit.
Yet, each of these uncomfortable realities whisper hope to us if we’ll listen. The tedious monotony of life tests our patience inviting us to constantly trust the timing of the One who holds time in His hands. The evasiveness of visible success keeps us humbly trusting the only One who saves souls, heals lives, and breaks down strongholds. The frustrations of life’s trials reminds us that this world’s light and momentary existence pales in comparison to the eager, eternal anticipation of the place where “He will wipe away all tears.”
A pastor friend shared with me recently a truth he’d gleaned from Isaiah 40:31.
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
The word for “renew” there means, literally “to exchange.” Isaiah conveys a simple, powerful, and profound truth to the disciple of Jesus. God promises to “exchange” His strength with ours when we wait upon Him! Is your life tiring you in mundane monotony? Wait. He will exchange His strength for yours. Are you growing discouraged in the lack of fruit you see, even as you faithfully strive to keep your hand upon the plow He’s assigned you? Wait. He will exchange His strength for yours. Have the turmoils of life weighed you down, tempting you to give up, give in, or give out? Wait. He will exchange His strength for yours.
That same man, Hudson Taylor, who so accurately described the work of the missionary also understood the work, power, and might of God. Time and again, he trusted God and watched God faithfully empower the gospel work throughout China. One biographer recounts:
Hudson Taylor was the most widely used missionary in China’s history. During his 51 years of service there, his China Inland Mission established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field (968 by 1911), trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith (following Mueller’s example), and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000. It has been said at least 35,000 were his own converts and that he baptized some 50,000. His gift for inspiring people to give themselves and their possessions to Christ was amazing.*
He had experienced the exchange of God’s mighty strength for his meager morsels. Those same whispers of hope burst into our ears as we contemplate some of his other words he’s left to us generations that have come after him. I leave you with these words from him that remind us of what I’ve been contemplating all morning. Wait on God. It’s always worth it.
“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”
“It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies — whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart.”
“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”
“Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”
― Hudson Taylor