There are many times I have conversations with other pastors and most, if not all, have had the experience at least once in their ministry were the people God placed in their care simply would not listen. No matter what they tried to do or say, the people would have none of it. Sometimes this is discouraging, especially after working for some time to try and encourage the people to move in the direction the pastor is convinced God is calling the congregation to go.
Then I read this passage in Jeremiah:
2 The prophet Jeremiah addressed all the people of Judah and all those living in Jerusalem. 3 From the thirteenth year of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son, to this very day—twenty-three years—the Lord’s word has come to me. I have delivered it to you repeatedly, although you wouldn’t listen. 4 In fact, the Lord has tirelessly sent you all his servants, the prophets, but you wouldn’t listen or pay attention. 5 They said, “Each one of you, turn from your evil ways and deeds and live in the fertile land that the Lord gave you and your ancestors for all time. 6 Don’t follow or worship other gods and don’t anger me by what you make with your hands. Then I won’t bring disaster upon you.” 7 But you wouldn’t listen to me, making me angry by what you do and bringing disaster upon yourselves, declares the Lord.
For 23 years Jeremiah proclaimed the unequivocal word of God to the people of Judah, God’s chosen people, and for 23 years straight they rejected the message. This has to be one ministry that is even more frustrating than any of the pastors with whom I have talked. Imagine being in the same position, the same ministry, for over two decades and having nothing but rejection to show for it!
Yet there was some good that came of Jeremiah’s ministry. There was a remnant that was saved by the Lord. He prophesied about the coming of Jesus Christ. We have the record of his ministry as a warning and inspiration for ourselves. Jeremiah did much good on the cosmic scale, even if he only saw year after year of rejection.
Sometimes our greatest work for God is not known until much time has passed.