Parents and students carried little plates of finger food, mingling with faculty at the reception. A few graduates of our local state college had received special awards, our son Sam among them.
As I chatted with various people, one professor made a beeline for me. Having supervised and advised Sam while he worked on his English/Secondary Education degree, this professor told me how impressed she was with our son as a student, and complimented me on how well he had been prepared for college.
This was high praise indeed, as she knew I had homeschooled our sons.
To understand the impact of that simple conversation, though, you’d have to know the back story. Fourteen years of hard work. Fourteen years of doubts, questions and dealing with naysayers. Fourteen years of asking God, “Are we still on the right track?”
In that moment, vindication came quietly, gently—yet with all the weight of God’s personal “Well done” behind it.
And when you receive God’s commendation, suddenly everything is worth it.
Isn’t that the way it is with pregnancy center work?
The rewards don’t usually come immediately or obviously. You simply put one foot in front of the other, fairly certain God has told you to do this. (Some days there’s less certainty than others.)
Daily, weekly, you labor for a cause which is not exactly popular with everyone. By your very vocation, you take a stand against evil.
Opponents refer to centers like yours as “fake clinics.” The media regularly targets the work you do for criticism. Culture in general doesn’t applaud you.
So there’s plenty of external pressure—but that’s not all.
Inside the four walls of your center, you face the chaotic lives of clients who don’t always demonstrate gratitude. You’re weighed down with concerns about finances. Well-meaning donors come up with ideas that leave you shaking your head.
And then your best volunteer moves away.
How can you keep your hand on the plow and not get discouraged? How can you stay the course and keep the long view in mind?
It helps to keep two things in mind when it comes to how God rewards us.
First, God will reward us eternally for the things we accomplish for his kingdom’s sake on earth. This is a hard one to wrap our minds around because we are limited in our understanding, but it’s true. Acts of faithfulness, personal sacrifices, and deeds of service done in Jesus’ name will be rewarded by our heavenly Father.
He sees it all, and he keeps track of it all—and our reward lasts forever.
The Psalmist writes,
“You reward everyone according to what they have done.” – Psalm 62:12
Speaking of building on the foundation of Christ, the apostle Paul writes,
“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.” – I Corinthians 3:12-14
Further, the apostles speak of five different crowns which believers can receive in the age to come. You can find them in the following Scripture passages: 1 Corinthians 9:25, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.
Then in Revelation 3:11, Jesus instructs John to write, “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”
There’s good stuff coming—eternal, precious, amazing rewards!
As great as this reality is, it can feel a long way off. We may feel like the little kids in the video with the marshmallows, where each child is told if they wait and don’t eat the one marshmallow in front of them, they will receive another marshmallow.
Oh, the agony!
(Some of the kids manage to restrain themselves; others give up and dive into the marshmallow.)
A long-term reward can be hard to wait for. It requires patience and faith. What to do in the meantime?
There’s a second way God rewards us, besides in eternity. He assures our hearts here and now that we are pleasing him
If the challenge with eternal rewards is waiting for them, the challenge with rewards in the here-and-now is recognizing and celebrating them.
Tweet This: To those in the pregnancy help community: Hang in there. Ask God for the eyes to see and the ears to hear His commendation. #prolife @susannemaynes
These rewards often come in a whisper, not a shout.
When the English professor commended me on how well I had educated my son, the conversation didn’t take place on a platform with lights and cameras. No one handed me a ribbon or trophy. No one applauded me for my years of effort.
That didn’t matter at all. God gave me the ears to hear his “Well done!”—and that’s all I needed.
The same is true for you.
May I encourage you? Ask God for the eyes to see and the ears to hear his commendation.
Maybe it’s glancing at a photo of that little girl you know wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your ministry. Maybe it’s seeing that Life Skills student actually complete something for the first time in her life.
Maybe it’s having a conversation with a client and realizing you are getting through to her on a subject she was completely closed to ten minutes ago.
Or maybe someone takes you aside and says, “This ministry saved my life.”
In such moments, may you hear the voice of Jesus whispering, “Good job—I’m proud of you.” May you recognize he is vindicating and commending you.
Even before your eternal reward comes, may you have eyes to see and ears to hear the Lord’s words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”