Let’s be honest: there will be times when living for Jesus is not all a bed of roses. Sometimes, standing up for what we believe to be true in God’s Word will leave us frustrated, lonely, and even persecuted. And it’s at times like those that we most need to remember the big picture, to look at the forest instead of the proverbial trees.
John Calvin, the great reformer of the 16th century, was invited by the city fathers of Geneva to create a Protestant city-state. A few years after he had begun his work, though, those same people who had invited him turned around and banished him! For three years, he lived in exile in Strasbourg.
I love what Calvin’s response was to that banishment: “Surely if I had merely served (humanity), this would have been a poor recompense. But it is my happiness that I have served him who never fails to reward his servants to the full extent of his promise.”
Calvin knew that even if people did not respond well to what he was doing, that was less important than God’s response to what he was doing. He knew that, even if Geneva did not want him, the Lord still had a purpose for him and his work. During his exile in Strasbourg, Calvin never stopped writing, preaching and teaching; he just did it in a different location.
Three years later, the councillors of Geneva saw the error of their ways and invited Calvin back to continue the work he had begun. But even if that had not happened, God’s work would have carried on, for Calvin knew that serving God faithfully mattered most.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3.23, NLT).