In 1555 John Calvin wrote this in a letter to Philip Melanchthon:
It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.
What was Calvin trying to do here? He is trying to encourage Melancthon, that is clear, but notice how he encourages him. Calvin encourages his friend by saying that we can be obedient to God, doing what he requires of us, even when we don’t like the results.
Now we have to ask a question here to get deeper – “Why we would not like the results of our obedience to God’s call? The results could cause anything. The results could cause us to be beaten up. The results could cause us to be killed, mocked, ridiculed, scorned, or shamed. Here’s a lesson for us postmodern people – there could be no visible results at all on our obedience to God. Things could look on the surface exactly the same as they did before. Interesting huh? Calvin seems to believe that you can be obedient to God and successful in ministry even when you’re in despair concerning the results from your labor. Do we believe this? We ought to. And we ought to take heart – God is always working.