When I think about difficult professions, I think about mining. I can’t imagine harder work that an ordinary person could do than mining: going down into the inhospitable Earth; digging deeper and deeper; moving mud and muck; working through stone under hot conditions with bad air . . . but believe it or not, it isn’t the thought of any of those things that bothers me so much. It’s the idea of doing all that is necessary to sink a mineshaft, only to find that there is no mineral, no precious metal, no gem.

Evangelism is like that. You do a lot of digging in inhospitable places. There are hazards. When you try to tell people something they’d rather not hear, be ready for a bruised ego. You may hear insults that are cruel beyond your imagination. Many efforts at evangelism are like the miner’s dry shaft. You go all the way, build all the structure, and when you get there, there’s none of the mineral you’re seeking. If you can’t handle disappointment, don’t get involved in evangelism or mining.

God is never disappointed with our efforts to make Him known—each witnessing encounter is an act of worship to Him as well as an offer of salvation to those whom we hope to reach. But too many of us want a “sure thing.” We want guaranteed results for our efforts, the assurance of a certain measure of success, if only we try. Well, that measure of success doesn’t come from a try, but by trying again, again, again and again. And by believing that people are out there waiting to be set free by the message that you’ll bring.

More of us would probably witness and do evangelism if we could handle disappointments better. A good prayer request is “Lord, give me the patience to handle disappointment.”

Once we realize that disappointments are inevitable, it becomes apparent that each disappointment brings us one person closer to God’s appointment with that man or woman who is ready to receive salvation.