As a children’s pastor, there’s perhaps nothing that has tested my faith in God’s provision quite like recruiting volunteers. Frankly, when you’ve been told, “No,” several times over the course of a day, it can be discouraging.
A few years ago, I participated in a conference call with a group of children’s ministry leaders in our church’s denomination. The topic of conversation was—you guessed it—recruiting teachers. The moderator asked, “What have you found to be most successful?” One leader piped up quickly, “I find the most success when I am the most passionate and prayerful.” That children’s minister emphasized the last word in his sentence, and it was convicting to me. You see, it’s not just that people are more likely to volunteer when they sense a leader’s passion. More importantly, God has designed ministry so that it only moves forward when we depend on Him—when we trust Him and pray.
That’s why Zecharaiah is so frustrated with Israel’s leaders. They’re bad shepherds who have led the people to trust in deceitful idols (Zechariah 10:2; see also Ezekiel 34:1–10). They’d been passionate and involved, but they hadn’t led the people to green pastures. They led them to pasturelands that were rocky and dry; they tried to feed the sheep in a desert land ruled by idols that couldn’t provide. We get the same results in our own lives when we depend on passion and effort but fail to stop and receive provision and restoration from God’s Spirit.
Thankfully, there was hope for the remnant of Israel, and there is hope for us too. We find that hope by calling upon God in prayer. Zechariah’s prophecy is a reminder that God can make even dry ground lush again:
“Ask the Lord for rain
in the season of spring rain.
The Lord makes the rain clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain
and crops in the field for everyone.”
God promised to punish Israel’s bad shepherds and restore the remnant of His people, causing them to rejoice with gladness (vv.3,6–7). God promised to strengthen them so they’d be a strong army with a brand new identity. They would live securely “in the Lord” (v.12). God provides for us as well in the name of Jesus Christ—He is our provision. He is the bread of life (John 6:22–35). Whatever discouragement you’re facing today, He is the Provider. You can depend on Him.
Written by Jared Kennedy