In the sermon a week ago I talked about William Carey, who was a missionary in India for much of his life. During his 41 years there, the Bible was translated into about 40 languages and dialects. Amazing! But Carey’s life and ministry was not always encouraging, and certainly not easy. One very discouraging trial he faced was in 1812 when a fire broke out at the printing press. Years of tedious translation work was lost in the fire. Afterwards Carey remarked, “In one short evening, the labours of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God! I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection of which they seemed capable, and contemplated the missionary establishment with perhaps too much self-congratulation. The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to Him.”
This past week I had the privilege of attending a pastor’s conference in Minneapolis. The teaching was helpful and inspiring. The corporate worship with hundreds of other pastors was also a blessing. And the times of fellowship with other pastors (old friends and new ones) was especially encouraging.
One new acquaintance I made was a pastor from India named Barnabas. He had travelled all the way from India to the States in order to spend time with a pastor friend of his and to attend the conference. When I asked him about William Carey, he quickly affirmed that Carey’s work was responsible for the Bible translation which is in Barnabas’s mother tongue.
Many decades later, Carey’s work is still bearing fruit. He had his trials and discouragements, but he pressed on with the work God had called him to do. He did see much fruit in his own lifetime, but there is much fruit (continuing to this day) which he did not see.
So press on, brothers and sisters. God only allows us to see a small bit of what He is doing in and through us. We must trust that He is bearing much fruit which we will never see in this lifetime.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)