5. 5 lousy views. Hours of labor and prayer and love just for 5 measly people to read it and care.
You know how it goes. Weeks organizing a ministry event that next to no one attends. Days carefully pouring over the plans so that everything runs smoothly and then bad weather forces a cancellation.
Sometimes work, even Godly work, seems futile doesn’t it? Solomon understands:
“Everyone’s toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied…
Whatever exists has already been named,
and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend with someone who is stronger.
The more the words, the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?”
–Ecclesiastes 6:7, 10-11
Returning day after day to work we were called to do can be downright disheartening. It doesn’t seem fair, especially as people whose work is unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
When you work for the Lord, your tasks seem a little more important. Suddenly, having the correct response to your toddler’s simple question is tantamount. Writing up elaborate answers to life’s greatest trials using God’s Word correctly while also being pure of heart and clearly reaching a wide audience lovingly through your homemade blog seems utterly necessary.
So it’s pretty frustrating when it seems like, for all your efforts and care and all that you do is for the Lord, He isn’t using it.
Let’s get a little perspective.
In Psalm 90, we read a prayer of Moses concerning the Lord’s greatness and our lowly lots in life. The Psalm begins:
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
We know that part. God’s been around through it all, and He will be forever. He’s where all rests and occurs that ever has or will.
“You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.”
Right. We’re getting a sense of the big picture. Not only is God above and beyond time, He created time. He sees it all at once. From the 5 people who read your post to how your child’s sense of confidence is distantly but strongly connected to your loving, Biblical explanations when he was 2.
Given all that, we’re reminded: we’re from dust, and we go back to it.
“Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.”
Getting a sense of finiteness? Our time is short, and the cycle of life on earth fleeting. We’re bound up in the cycle of life, in our circumstances, and in the inevitability of being human. Compared to what we’ve been reading, this is humbling. God is forever, above all. We’re like grass or dust.
This doesn’t sound encouraging, I know, but keep reading…
“We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.”
Not only are we like grass or dust in God’s bigger picture, but we’re totally unworthy. Even the secret sins of our heart cause us to moan before the Lord. We’re that sinful and that incapable of standing before the Lord ourselves. Life wears us down and we’re terrified by the Lord’s might and justice and righteous wrath concerning sin. With Christ, we can stand before the Lord confidently –but that’s because of Jesus, not our worth!
“Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
We have the chance of living longer if we can hold on and stay strong. But whether we live long or not, our lives will go quickly and will ultimately end. In the mean, we’ll face trouble and sorrow. Even with Jesus, this is true!
Don’t be mistaken, even resting in and following Christ faithfully, we’re to fear the Lord. We are counted worthy to be reconciled with God because of Jesus, we’re still not on par with the trinity. Our days on earth are still limited. Our sin is still abominable.
But the end of this section carries also an exhortation: number your days so that you can gain a heart of wisdom. In other words, look rightly on your labor, your toil, your relationships, yourself. Take stock in light of who God is, what His greater plans are, and what He’ll be doing long after your gone (hint: His work began long before you arrived, too.)
That’s wisdom, my friends. A right perspective on life. Are you making your work and your life out to be more than it is? Less than it is? Take stock.
“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.”
Finally, an outcry we really understand. Lord we want to be satisfied in You! Lord let us worship you and help us to be thankful and pleased with the life you’ve given us…even the trouble and afflictions! Help us to understand, Lord, Your deeds.
Because the Lord’s deeds are perfect. Splendid. Holy. Unfailing. Compassionate. They don’t always make sense to us. But we’re grass, we’re dust. He’s been around for all of it, sovereign over everything. As we endure the seeming futility of our lives and try to look at our lives as the Lord does, we need our perspective to be of Him and of His ways.
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.”
We can’t make our work worthy. We can’t make it last. Our work, like our bodies, will wither and pass away. Our lives, wrought with all sorts of turmoil, not the least of which is the work of our hands at times, will be before Him….and established by Him.
Your work, in the Lord, can be established by His hands. His hands that don’t fail. Hands that were around before time, are at work throughout all time and space and earth. The same hands that will be lovingly, compassionately, and righteously at work long after we’ve entered eternity.
You can’t earn that favor from the Lord. You can’t hide away secret sins to make your work more credible before Him. But you can turn it over. You can set it out for the Lord to set up as He sees fit. And your toddler’s misinterpretation of your words, and your 5 lousy views, will be established in a Kingdom far bigger, far more organized, and far more splendid than anything you could create yourself.
The same King who “establishes the work of your hands” is “your dwelling place
throughout all generations. From everlasting to everlasting…” He’s God.