Robert Moffat was a nineteenth-century Scottish missionary to South Africa. He spent three years (1818–1821) just traveling to his assigned mission post. He and his wife labored faithfully for ten years but with no tangible results.

But then God began to stir within the people.

In a period of three years, the number of converts in Moffat’s city went from zero to 120. How different things would have been if they had decided to abandon the work in year nine! Oh, friend, how we must ask God to grant us supernatural faithfulness!

Adoniram Judson is another example. Judson was one of the first American missionaries. He spent six years in Burma (modern-day Myanmar) before he saw his first convert—a man named Maung Nau. Judson confessed that even at the moment of Maung Nau’s profession of faith, he was a bit skeptical because of the years of fruitlessness. He wrote in his journal:

I begin to think that the Grace of God has reached Maung Nau’s heart. . . . It seems almost too much to believe that God has begun to manifest his grace to the Burmans; but this day I could not resist the delightful conviction that this is really the case. Praise and glory be to His Name forevermore.

I am also reminded of the British politician William Wilberforce. After his conversion in 1785, he labored for forty-eight years to abolish slavery in the British Empire. For much of his life, it must have seemed like a lost cause. The last stages of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 were carried out without him due to his declining health in the final years of his life. The act was passed just three days before his death, and he heard about it on his deathbed.

Nearly fifty years of faithful labor, and he nearly missed seeing the fruit of his faithfulness.

As we sow spiritual seeds, God acquaints us with the discipline of waiting.

J. D. Greear, Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2019).

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