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I HAVE LABORED in VAIN

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  • I HAVE LABORED in VAIN

    I HAVE LABORED in VAIN

    by David Wilkerson


    Would it shock you to know that Jesus experienced the feeling of

    having accomplished little?


    In Isaiah 49:4 we read these words: "Then I said, I have labored in

    vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain". Note that

    these are not the words of Isaiah, who was called by God at a

    mature age. No, they are Christ's own words, spoken by One

    "called from the womb; from the body of my mother. The Lord

    formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again

    to him, (and to gather Israel)" (49:1, 5).


    When I came upon this passage, one that I'd read many times

    before, my heart was in wonder. I could hardly believe what I was

    reading. Jesus' words here about "laboring in vain" were a response

    to the Father who had just declared, "Thou art my servant in whom

    I will be glorified" (49:3). We read Jesus' surprising response in the

    next verse: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for

    nought" (49:4).


    After reading this, I stood to my feet in my study and said, "How

    wonderful. I can hardly believe that Christ was this vulnerable,

    confessing to the Father that he was experiencing what we humans

    face. In his humanity, he tasted the same discouragement, the

    same despondency, the same woundedness. He was having the

    same thoughts I've had about my own life: "This isn't what I

    perceived was promised. I wasted my strength. It has all been in

    vain."


    Reading those words made me love Jesus all the more. I realized

    Hebrews 4:15 is not just a cliche - our Savior truly is touched with

    the feelings of our infirmities, and was tempted in all ways as we

    are, yet without sin. He'd known this very same temptation from

    Satan, hearing the same accusing voice: "Your mission is not

    accomplished. Your life has been a failure. You've got nothing to

    show for all your labors."


    Christ came into the world to fulfill the will of God by reviving Israel.

    And he did just as he was commanded. But Israel rejected him:

    "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11).


    Why would Jesus, or any man or woman of God, speak such

    despairing words as these: "I have labored in vain"? How could the

    Son of God make such a statement? And why have generations

    of faithful believers been reduced to such despondent words? It is

    all the result of measuring little results against high expectations.


    You may think, "This message sounds like it applies just to

    ministers, or to those called to do some great work for God. I can

    see it being meant for missionaries or the Bible prophets. But what

    does it have to do with me?" The truth is, we're all called to one

    grand, common purpose, and to one ministry: that is, to be like

    Jesus. We are called to grow in his likeness, to be changed into

    his express image.
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