There are times when we desire something good to take place in gospel ministry, but the result is unfulfilled or does not come to pass as we hoped. We can desire a good thing—the conversion of the lost; new ministries to start; certain individuals to be impacted by the gospel—and not see that desire come to be fulfilled in the way that we hope. Remembering this can help us trust in God, and embolden us to continue laboring to do the good works God has for us (Eph 2:10).
King David is an excellent example of this. His desire was to build the temple in Jerusalem where God’s people could come and worship and bring their sacrifices. It was a good desire in David’s heart (1 Chronicles 28:2). However, God had other plans: “But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’” (1Chronicles 28:3).
It was not God’s will for David’s good desire to be fulfilled in the way that he hoped. Rather, God would use David to gather the supplies and organize the priests (1 Chronicles 28-29), which would set up Solomon to build the temple. David did the hard work of gathering and organizing, but Solomon was the one who completed the task. (And even this temple completed by Solomon was in a way an unfulfilled result, as the Jerusalem temple pointed forward to Jesus, the true temple [John 2:19]). Surely many of our ministry efforts are this way: we attempt or start a work, but God has others who will complete them (some sow the seed and other reap the harvest, but God is the one who makes the plant grow [1 Cor 3:6]).
TRUSTING GOD WITH UNFULFILLED MINISTRY RESULTS
I remember the first time I organized a Bible study for other students who lived in my dorm. I desired to see them come to faith in Jesus. I prayed. I invited—and many even voiced an initial interest to come. But on the night of the Bible study, none of the other students from my dorm showed up. It was a disappointment, but God did use it for my good. He taught me to trust in Him with ministry’s unfulfilled results. He taught me to preserve in reaching out to those around me. He taught me that only He can satisfy heart’s deepest desires.
God is sovereign, and we can trust him with ministry’s unfulfilled results. We can desire good things, pray for them, work toward them, and not see them come to pass in the way we hoped. But in the end, God is in control and working all things together for our good (Rom 8:28).