Sometimes, particularly in dealing with a stubborn child who refuses to listen, parents want to throw up their hands in frustration and walk away saying, “Why am I wasting my time when my child won’t even listen to me?”
Our tendency in life is to look at a situation, figure out what’s wrong, propose a solution, and then attempt to see some results. When we see a problem, we want to fix it. It’s not enough just to diagnose the problem and leave it at that.
How strange it must have been, then, for Ezekiel to be tasked with ministering to the Jewish people even as God warns him that they may not even listen at all? Essentially, God asks Ezekiel to devote his life to the task of teaching the Jewish people how to be upright citizens in the kingdom of God . . . even while knowing that the entire endeavor may be for naught!
Indeed, imagine going to work and being given a project to which you are supposed to devote every waking hour for the next several years. Your boss tells you that you’ll be working all by yourself, day and night, pouring countless resources into finishing. But he tells you, before you start, that it may turn out in the end that the project is entirely pointless and will have accomplished nothing.
How many of us would accept such a task? Wouldn’t we all feel that such a job would be a waste of our time?
This is the importance of the final phrase in the verse. Even though God tells Ezekiel that the Jewish people may not accept his prophetic guidance, God stresses that, even so, “they will know that a prophet has been among them.” In other words, they will know that God cares about them – cares so much, in fact, that he has granted a human being the ability to be a divine messenger so that he can teach humanity what God requires of them.
The same is true for parents or anyone who worries that his or her actions are not producing results. Sometimes, the important thing is not that children listen to their parents, but that children simply know that their parents are there for them, and that their parents loves them. So too with our loved ones who need our help: first and foremost, we need to make sure they know we are here to help, and ready to love.
That knowledge – in the long run – can be the biggest blessing of all.