Monday’s Question: Why Are You Working so Hard?


Devotional Thought of the Day:

2  Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke. 3  What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? 4  One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth. Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (MSG)

Then suddenly, filled with a holy love, and a sober shame, in anger with himself cast his eyes upon his friend, saying, “Tell me, I pray thee, what would we attain by all these labours of ours? what aim we at? what serve we for? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to be the Emperor’s favourites? and in this, what is there not brittle, and full of perils? and by how many perils arrive we at a greater peril? and when arrive we thither? But a friend of God, if I wish it, I become now at once.”  (1)

As I sit in my office this morning, looking at perhaps a busier week than last, I am overwhelmed with thought’s like Solomon’s this morning.

Older translations use the word vanity; all is vain.  Others use futile, or emptiness.Most of us on Monday can easily sympathize, why are we here?  Is it just to earn a small paycheck, to buy food, pay for a roof over our heads, and find our “escape” whether it be television, or a vacation, or something less positive, like drugs, alcohol, gambling or other addictions.

On Mondays, we tend to be more aware of this futility.  Even those of us who work in “noble” jobs, which strive to help.  The work is unending, the pain we observe just seems to move from one family to another.

Augustine’s recounting of a friend shows a similar revelation, as they realize their futility.  Even if they rise to the highest of heights, there they find the probability that such a place is fleeting. That the favor of those they would count on could shift like the wind, and they could be on the way out, terminated by the boss.  In their day, termination was more than going on the unemployment line.  It was an actual termination, with prejudice.

So why do we do what we do?  What is the end reward, besides simple survival?  Occasional moments of pleasure which cost us more in the end?

Augustine’s friend found an answer, simpler than he ever expected, and something I need to remember as I struggle on Mondays.

Being a friend of God.

TO know that we are loved, that we are the children of a promise.

15  I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16  You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17  This, then, is what I command you: love one another.  John 15:15-17 (TEV)

To walk with God, to talk with Jesus, not as some great Lord, but as with a friend.  To hear His encouraging voice, to know that He walks with us, His people.  That He draws us together to be His family. What a blessing to be reminded by a hundred voices yesterday that God is with me, to hear them bless me, reminding me of the peace that is mine. To see God’s love revealed, through those who know the love of God!

I am, today, looking at a hard week, as I will deal with family after family struggling with death. It would seem vain, meaningless, even painful, where I not living in the shadow of Easter, the place where God proves His love for me, and for all those He yearns to call his friends.   Because of that, I know why I work so hard, why I endure.

It is to give others the hope that all is not futile, that all is not vain, that it all will not just go up in smoke.   It isn’t just a pastor’s job to do this, but the life of those who Jesus called friends, who someday He will welcome home.

As St. Peter said,

“simply concentrate on being completely devoted to Christ in your hearts. Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants a reason for the hope that you have within you1 Peter 3 (Phillips NT)

And may you realize you dwell in God’s peace – a peace that goes beyond all logic, yet a peace where your hearts and minds are kept safe, guarded by Christ.  AMEN

(1)  Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine

. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on March 28, 2016, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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