My roommate for the first two years of college has become one of my closest friends. She and I experienced a lot of college life together and to say I’m thankful for her is quite an understatement.
Now, I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes, college is HARD. Especially when you really care about what you’re studying and you’re not content with just sliding by with the grade you need. And that’s us to a T. We’re both willing to put in the work...read all the books...complete all the assignments...because we want to get as much out of our time here as we can.
So many times, my roommate and I sat on our kitchen counters (or the kitchen floor, let’s be real) and took a deep breath, like WOAH, are you as tired as I am? Yes? Okay, yeah. Remind me again how all of these assignments/papers/exams/exegeticals/lab practicals will be possible to complete before May?
Whenever we reached that point of utter exhaustion and felt like we were at our lowest level of motivation, we’d reconvene, usually on the kitchen floor because we were tired...& being closer to the ground felt less stressful (it's good logic, I swear).
We sat there in our temporary "no-stress zone" to remind each other of one simple thing: Our whys.
Because this was what we knew:
There was a reason Anna fell in love with nursing when working alongside her dad (a doctor) on the mission field of Honduras.
There was a reason I fell in love with writing thanks to my 5th grade teacher and theology thanks to my sophomore Bible class.
From those pivotal moments, we had our “whys.” We knew exactly what we wanted to pursue, and even though we didn’t always know what the path to get there would look like, we had our end goals in mind.
So when college felt less than ideal (or even impossible), we reminded each other of why we were there. We knew the work we put in would shape us to be a better a nurse and a better author/speaker in the future. And so we'd brew two cups of tea, we'd walk across campus to the school library, and we'd encourage one another to press on because of our whys.
I think the same idea rings true for our spiritual lives.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul encourages the Church of Corinth to “give [themselves] fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). He writes:
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Now, that’s a pretty inspirational verse, if I do say so myself.
But while inspiration is so good (I didn’t call this blog Inspired & Authentic for nothing…), inspiration doesn’t stand for long on its own.
We’re human. And no matter how good it is to know “that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15 58), we’re bound to ask the question eventually… Why? Why is my work not in vain? How can I know for sure that this work will be worth it in the end?
That question is inevitable because life is not always roses and butterflies & living a life for Christ is therefore not always easy.
The ‘why’ question arises…
...when the spiritual high of a new Christian wears off.
...when temptation to sin outweighs any appeal to a life of righteousness.
...when you or someone you love is struggling with the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Or maybe worse…Why would a good God allow evil to begin with?
But reading this verse (1 Corinthians 15:58) in context gives us our why, and our why gives us both hope and motivation to move forward in doing the Lord's work.
Surrounding the verse I quoted above, Paul writes on the resurrection and describes some of what will take place in that time.
He writes that death will not be victorious & the sting of death (sin) will no longer remain (1 Cor. 15:55).
Instead, those who follow the Lord will be victorious “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57)!
How amazing is this?
We can continue to live for the Lord (pursuing righteousness, resisting the temptation of sin, doing good, loving our neighbor even when it's inconvenient) because we know how things will play out.
We know that sin will not be victorious, Christ will.
And in that time, we’ll never regret the godly decisions we made, even when those decisions were so extremely hard...even when those decisions didn’t produce immediate gratification.
If anything, we’ll wish those decisions were less few and far between.
So, this is the why for our faith:
We know sin and death will not forever win & we know Christ will be victorious in the end. This gives us motivation for now and hope for what is to come.
Because of this, we can confidently give our lives to the Lord’s work.
Surely, our labor in the Lord is not in vain.