We have learned from Isaiah 49 that the Lord knows your battle. He has fought it before you. And it is no sin to endure thoughts that your labor has been in vain, or to be cast down with a sense of failure over shattered expectations. Jesus himself experienced this and was without sin.
It is very dangerous, however, to allow these hellish lies to fester and enflame your soul. Jesus showed us the way out of such despondency with this statement: “I have labored in vain…yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God” (Isaiah 49:4, italics mine). The Hebrew word for judgment here is “verdict,” Christ is saying, in effect, “The final verdict is with my Father. He alone passes judgment on all that I’ve done and how effective I’ve been.”
God is urging us through this verse: “Stop passing a verdict over your work for me. You have no business judging how effective you’ve been. And you have no right to call yourself a failure. You don’t yet know what kind of influence you’ve had. You simply don’t have the vision to know the blessings that are coming to you.” Indeed, we won’t know many such things until we stand before him in eternity.
In Isaiah 49, Jesus heard the Father say in so many words: “So, Israel is not yet gathered. Yes, I called you to bring in the tribes, and that has not happened in the way you imagined it. But that calling was only a little thing compared to what is coming for you. It’s nothing in comparison to what I have in store. I’m going to make you now a light for the whole world. You’re going to bring salvation to the whole earth” (see Isaiah 49:5-6).
While the devil is lying to you, saying that all you’ve done is in vain, that you’ll never see your expectations fulfilled, God in his glory is preparing a greater blessing. He has better things in store, beyond anything you could think or ask.
We’re not to listen to the enemy’s lies any longer. Instead, we’re to rest in the Holy Spirit, believing him to fulfill the work of making us more like Christ. And we are to rise up from our despair and stand on this word: “Be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).