Isaiah 49: 1-7 points towards the restoration of Israel in the leadership of a new ruler who will bring light (and hope).
I feel for this servant. It seems as though he (we can assume it is a he) does not feel very powerful...does not feel very effective in his current circumstance.
The Lord says to him, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I shall be glorified" But the servant responds, "I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity." I can identify with that kind of feeling...when it seems like you have really given something a good effort...you've really tried to do what you feel God is calling you do and you do it with all of your heart...and still there is no fruitful outcome.
Failure. It's something we all have felt at some point in life. The tricky thing is to not be thwarted by failures...to figure out how to get back up and try again. Even in that moment when the servant laments the failure of his efforts to produce a fruitful outcome, he still has hopeful words on his lips: "...yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God."
It seems in ministry, the temptation to feel like my efforts are futile is very strong. My church is not busting at the seems with worshippers...we struggle with finances...and there never seems to be enough people to do all of the things that should be done. Yet, "surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God."
I will remember the servant's words and I minister with my heart, my mind and my hands.