“It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
Psalm 127:2 NLT
Another gem from Solomon’s pen. Our capitalistic and materialistic society is based to a large extent on greed, because we are encouraged by our “work ethic” to get better paid jobs, or work longer hours. And by so doing we end up earning more money which we can then spend on more “stuff”. A cynical point of view? Perhaps. But Solomon was pointing out that we sometimes get our priorities wrong, becoming driven by anxiety, just to obtain food to eat. His was a different, poorer, society of course, and food was a basic commodity often in short supply. But we so often, in these modern and enlightened days, hassle along, driven by our own efforts, instead of realigning our priorities to God’s ways.
Jesus picked up this theme in Matthew 6:25-27, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” On my early morning prayer walk today, just as it was getting light, hundreds of geese flew overhead, silhouetted and just visible against the greyness of an overcast sky. The ragged V’s, the honking and squeaking. A corporate outing of beautiful birds heading for their next feeding grounds. Jesus was right – their Heavenly Father created them to heed His voice about the supply of food. And Jesus brought into His teaching the concept that we have our priorities all wrong. Instead of pursuing the business of our amazing Creator God, enjoying the abundant life that He has provided for us, we worry and hassle after more mundane things, like what we will eat or what we will wear. Jesus said we are “far more valuable” to God than birds so why do we worry?
God has promised us rest. Hebrews 4 starts, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.” But what is the rest Solomon mentioned, and the writer of the Hebrews epistle alludes to? The rest promised by God to Christians is in two parts – the peace of our relation with God in this life, and eternal life with Him in the life to come. So when we worry we are effectively preferring to trust our own efforts, thereby rejecting God’s offer of rest.
So we work hard at the tasks God has given us – no place for laziness in His Kingdom – but within the context of experiencing His rest at the same time. Our priorities are clear. And peace descends, flushing away the cares of life.