Like most people in my church, I have opportunities that help me get involved in the lives of others, as I try to assist, guide, and comfort them, just as others have opportunities to do the same for me and my family. In this reciprocal series of ministrations, much of the work is pleasant socializing, but often this work seems fruitless.
It’s easy–and tempting–to get frustrated with people when they don’t seem to be making enough progress. After months and even years of patient teaching and testifying, many people still won’t come to church, or try to give up a bad habit, or do things to improve their health or work, or do much of anything at all. It can seem like a waste of time, then–a pointless exercise in futility.
But at such times we might feel closer to God than at any other, because if our relatively little efforts can provoke us to such discouragement, imagine how God’s perfect love, which is met with almost universal rejection, endlessly endures.
If I feel hurt because the invitations given to others by my work with them have been rejected, how much more could God be grieved because I’ve turned away from infinitely more such invitations? “But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.” Jacob 5:47
If I’m frustrated that others don’t seem as interested in the messages I’d like to share with them as I think they should be, how much more should God be hurt because I’ve so utterly failed to realize the potential shown to me through all the blessings He’s filled my life with? “And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” Mosiah 4:11-12
If I’m tempted to give up on anybody, shouldn’t I remember how much more justified would God be in giving up on me? And yet His love has never been withheld in the least degree. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” 2 Nephi 15:25
If I feel disappointed with anyone else because they don’t seem to fully appreciate my efforts for them, how much more should God be disappointed in me, since I’ve failed to appreciate His far greater efforts for me? I can’t control the reactions of others, but instead of lamenting that perceived lack of gratitude from those for whom I labor, wouldn’t my energy be better spent thanking He who labors for me, and emulating the patience and mercy He constantly pours out on me and on everyone?
“I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” Mosiah 2:20-22