In a poignant expression of self-doubt, Isaiah lamented his apparent lack of success:
I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain; surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.1 Nephi 21:4, Isaiah 49:4
In response God offered the following words of reassurance:
And now, saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that I should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him—though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.1 Nephi 21:5, Isaiah 49:5
Our Heavenly Father knows our hearts. He is appreciative of our efforts, whether they result in the desired outcomes or not.
In 1838, the Lord provided similar encouragement to a church member named Oliver Granger. When Joseph Smith and other church leaders moved from Ohio to Missouri, Oliver stayed behind to settle their affairs. The task was difficult—opposition to Joseph and other church leaders was rampant in Kirtland—and Oliver’s probability of success was low. But the Lord placed His stamp of approval on Oliver’s contribution in advance of his efforts:
I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.
Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.Doctrine and Covenants 117:12-13
Today, I will remember that the Lord sees my sincere and diligent efforts to do His work. Regardless of the discouragement I may feel when results don’t meet my expectations, I will be grateful that the Lord is appreciative of my sacrifice.
I recently heard that “sacrifice” is what we give to the Lord and not what we give up for the Lord. By giving to the Lord, our actions are made holy. I love that perspective as it helps me focus on my actions and not necessarily my results…feels like that is the point with Oliver Granger and all our church service…we focus on our actions and let the Lord worry about the results.
Great thought. And when we remember the recipient of our gift, sacrifice becomes an act of love, not merely of self-deprivation. Thanks for sharing!