We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
I like to work. In the last year, I’ve been out of work twice, twice let go (ok, fired) from jobs I enjoyed for which I was qualified. Twice I was let go when I didn’t deserve it. Years ago, a friend said to me that the best way to destroy a man is to destroy his ability to work. He was correct because unemployment feels like a depressing cycle, like you’re swirling in a whirlpool of mire and you can’t pull yourself out. All you want is a chance to earn, to contribute, to prove yourself and you don’t get that chance. What folks say about being older and out of work is true. It is tougher when you’re in your fifties to be out of work than it was in your twenties. You question your worth more, you’re scared of the future, and you feel even more powerless to stop the cycle.
This is a good time, then, to re-read the verse above, and remember that work done through faith in God is NEVER meaningless and always produces more than it uses. This past time of unemployment and uncertainty has only been ameliorated by faith in God.
Sure, it’s still scary, but it’s less scary than it could be when I remember that God has been using this time to prepare me for other things (new job, new places, new missions). He has taken things out of my life that I don’t need anymore, or to which I can’t usefully contribute; it’s not about me and may indeed be about other people I don’t even know. Whatever the reason, God has been using this time to draw me closer to Himself and teach me things I might not have learned otherwise.
God has been using this time to give me other work, like this blog and a new devotional I’m writing and a new book that’s underway. These are labors of love, like the farm I worked and the marriage which is thriving because my wife and I drew closer together in our faith. And God has built up our endurance because there are good days and even harder days ahead when He wants us to be able to endure, persevere, and succeed. Without faith in God, all my work is meaningless. With Him, it’s a way of life and a daily mission field of adventure.
For further reading: Philippians 4:20, Galatians 5:6, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, James 2:14-26, 1 Thessalonians 3:6, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Romans 8:25, 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Father God, thank You for the hardships in my life. Thank You, more, for using them to teach me, build me up, and to let these struggles be a blessing to others.