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Friday, June 6, 2014

Tears, I Feel You

It's hard to keep our attitude right about work. It's possible to go back and forth between being so tightly wound and overstimulated that we are paralyzed from getting anything done to being so unenergized and unfocused so we don't care whether get anything done. Recent research says that we are more engaged in our work if we have time to be renewed during the day, know that we are valued (not just for what we do), have the ability to focus on one thing at a time, and know that our work contributes to a higher purpose. To the extent that we are missing some or all of these aspects in our daily responsibilities, the more disatisfying or even heartbreaking our work is likely to be. In that case this passage could be of some help:

Psalm 126:5–6 (ESV)
            5       Those who sow in tears 
      shall reap with shouts of joy! 
            6       He who goes out weeping, 
      bearing the seed for sowing, 
                  shall come home with shouts of joy, 
      bringing his sheaves with him.
I've always heard these verses used in the context of evangelism, but I think John Piper is right in his devotional A Godward Life to apply them to pursuing our responsibilities in the midst of grief. His thought is that this Psalm teaches the difficult truth that there is work to be done whether we feel like doing it or not. If your spirit is broken through mind numbing, soul crushing work or you are heartbroken through some other grief I think Piper's words help: 
Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, "I can't sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged"? If you do that, you will not eat in the winter. Suppose you say instead, "I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and the doorbell ring at the same time. I cry for no reason at all, but the field needs to be sowed. That is the way life is. I do not feel like it, but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears."
Piper sums up like this:
When there's work to be done, when you're full of sadness and tears, go ahead and do the job with tears. Be realistic. Say, "Tears I feel you. You make me want to quit life, but there is a field to be sown, (dishes to be washed, the car to be fixed, emails to answer) I know you will wet my face several times today but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me."
Sunday, at Bethany Place I'm continuing the series Uncommon Sense from the book of Proverbs. This week we focus on some of the many things the book has to say about work. I believe we will find hope for our work even when we are heartbroken when we learn to apply an eternal perspective. Here's the outline if you want a sneak peek.

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