Hard Work and Worry

“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.

Yo-Yo

“Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! May Your glory shine over all the earth.
My enemies have set a trap for me. I am weary from distress. They have dug a deep pit in my path, but they themselves have fallen into it.”
Psalms‬ ‭57:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Psalm 57 is a “Yo-Yo” set of verses. David’s thoughts, captured in this Psalm, seem to bounce between praise to God and despair about his predicament. He’s on the run again, and Saul nearly catches him this time. You can just imagine him and his men holding their breath as Saul’s soldiers pass by. And we read that Saul was even within reach of David as he “relieved himself” in the same cave in which David was hiding.

In today’s Western society it is difficult to relate to the dangers David faced into, almost on a daily basis, as he tried to keep out of Saul’s way. Most of us do not experience threats to our lives. But we do experience difficulties in which God’s help is just as important as it was in David’s circumstances. As I write, the fallout from Brexit and the pandemic are manifesting themselves in all sorts of societal problems. Security of food and road fuel supplies are under threat. Energy prices have rocketed. We are constantly being told that the NHS cannot cope with the demands being made of it. People are anxious and nervous about the future. Their worlds have been shaken and there seems to be no remedy in sight. So what do we do? We do what David did. Share our worries and concerns with our loving Heavenly Father, and concentrate of praising Him. Verse 5, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! May your glory shine over all the earth” is repeated again in verse 11. Why? Because that was David’s heart. No matter what he was facing into, the important bit was putting God in His rightful place.

So are we anxious today? 1 Peter 5:7 reads, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Jesus said in John 16:33, “…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We have a choice – accept God’s loving care as He “overcomes the world” or worry ourselves into an early grave. Stark language I know but David went on to become Israel’s greatest king. What will we achieve as God’s overcomers?

God’s Shining Face

“Make Your face shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness. Psalms‬ ‭31:16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

God’s shining face. What a lovely picture. A face full of illumination, transparent, translucent and attractive. A face looking at me with love, kindness and grace. A God-face on a faceless God. An expression of a God who cares for me and is interested in everything about me.

God’s shining face. Sadly in our mundane, human-bound world, God’s shining face is eclipsed by the worries and cares of life. But it’s still there, as permanent as the sun by day and the moon by night. Always ready and willing to shine on you, and me. Look carefully into the face of our Creator and see the light of his countenance, shining through. As the old song says:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

God’s shining face. Thank You, God, for shining on me today.