It has been said that righteousness is its own reward.
I believe that.
But is that the end of the story?
The Bible has much to say about harvesting and reward. The law of sowing and reaping is not only natural, it is supernatural. It is physical AND spiritual.
One of the old hymns of the faith that stands out in my mind is the song, "It Will Be Worth It All."
Sometimes the day seems long,
Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain,
To murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear
To catch his bride away!
All tears forever over
In God’s eternal day!
At times the sky seems dark,
With not a ray of light;
We’re tossed and driven on,
No human help in sight.
But there is One in heaven,
Who knows our deepest care;
Let Jesus solve your problems,
Just go to Him in prayer.
Life’s day will soon be o’re,
All storms forever past;
We’ll cross the great divide
To Glory, safe at last!
We’ll share the joys of heaven:
A harp, a home, a crown;
The tempter will be banished,
We’ll lay our burdens down.
It will be worth it all
When we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
When we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face,
All sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
Till we see Christ.
(by Esther Kerr Rusthoi © 1941)
Why do such lyrics resonate so powerfully? Because of the weight behind the little phrase, "It all!" It will be worth IT ALL. The "it all" Rusthoi wrote of includes all the fears, the frustrations, the pains, the questions, the heartaches, the heart breaks, the evils, and the dangers that we all endure in this life. Even those who live the most charmed and affluent of lives still experience the "it all" of our cursed existence. Even if the only negative you ever experienced was the realization that you could (and someday will) find the end of your blessings in this world, that in and of itself would be enough to merit real sadness. But few (if any) survive this life with that meager detraction only. One way or another, (for virtually all of us) life eventually becomes difficult or even unbearable.
Well, we keep on going.
As already stated, keep on going because it is the right thing to do.
But also, keep on going because the alternative is much worse.
Keep on going because others have done so and they bear witness to the fact that it was worth the trouble (see Hebrews 11).
Keep on going because others have given up and the consequences were dire and destructive.
Keep on going because one more step might bring you to that breakthrough you've been longing for. What a tragedy to give up just before finding the hidden treasure! What a shame, if we give up just short of success.
Keep on going because this life is only preparation for the next one. No matter how hard this life gets, the glory of the next one (for the Christian) is so great that any comparison is unmerited. In Romans 8:18 we read where Paul wrote, "I reckon [i.e. he had made the necessary calculations and could verify] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Even for the unbeliever, giving up is worse that keeping on. The miseries of this life are nothing compared to the miseries of hell. So, keep on going.
Keep on going because someone is watching you. No matter how small or insignificant you and I may be; no matter how irrelevant we may feel — somebody is watching us. I mean some person; some human who needs a good example and a little inspiration. There are people around you who need your positive influence. It might be a relative, a child, a co-worker, or even a stranger — but someone somewhere is likely to adjust their behavior based upon what they see you do.
Keep on going because you can. Assuming you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the everliving Spirit of the Almighty residing in you. Greater is He who is in you that he who is in the world. Life — with all of its problems and negative persuasions — is no match for the Master.
Keep on going because God is watching. That's both fearsome and encouraging. If I quit, He sees and He disapproves. If I keep on going — which is a form of faith — He sees and approves. And He is keeping up with us. He (God) is keeping track. He keeps impeccable records. He forgives our failures, yes. But He also rewards our obedience. Keep on going because God cares whether you do or don't. Keep on going because God has promised to welcome His faithful servants into His presence warmly. Keep on going because we are warned of the loss that unfaithful stewards will endure. Keep on going because judgment day is coming.
Keep on going because you're making a difference. God could choose to accomplish His purposes with or without you. Some things are indeed that way. But not all things. There are things that He wants to do, but that He will not do without you. Your life matters. Your contribution matters. Your service means something to you, to God, and to others. Regardless of whether or not you can see the waves that your presence makes on the tossing sea of life, there are reverberations for every thought, every attitude, every conviction, every word, every action, every reaction, every change in direction, every step of obedience, and ever slip of disobedience.
Keep on going, even when you don't have the support you want, need, and crave.
Keep on going when you are seemingly the only one willing to continue on.
When it seems like everyone else is stopping, sitting down, giving out and giving up: keep on going.
When it feels like the whole world is against you: keep on going.
Keep on going — no matter how tired you get.
Keep on going — no matter how discouraged you get.
Keep on going — no matter how many times you fail.
Just, keep on going. The harder the journey, the greater the reward for the survivor.
Keep on going!
Just keep on going in the right direction until you reach the end.
Don't stop. Keep on going.