Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry...
“They shall come and shall see my glory… And from them I will send survivors to the nations.” Isaiah 66:18-19
Some years ago, John Piper coined a memorable phrase: Missions exist because worship doesn’t. That’s true. The reason we send missionaries is that across the world there are millions of people who do not see Christ’s glory. The great purpose of mission is that Jesus Christ should be worshiped in every nation as people see his glory.
But thinking about this passage helps to see that the opposite is also true: Missions exist because worship does. Why would anyone become a missionary? Because they have been gripped by God’s glory and feel compelled to declare his glory to others.
Effective missionaries are worshipers gripped by the glory of God and “survivors” shaped by the discipline of God. “And from them I will send survivors” (66:19). In the immediate context, Isaiah is talking about those who survive the exile. But there is a broader application here.
Those who will be most useful and effective in the missionary enterprise will be people whose lives have been marked by God’s discipline. They will be survivors who have learned what it means to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). God uses the tough things in life to build the kind of character that makes a person useful in tough situations. So don’t despise the hardships of your life. Effective missionaries are worshipers gripped by the glory of God and survivors shaped by the discipline of God.
What kind of hardships has God been using to build character in your life? How might this discipline of God be shaping you for mission?