Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
At the time of writing this devotion, I am experiencing a snow day in my school board with cancelled buses due to the cold, snowy, blowy weather out here in our rural community. After a bit of arranging for coverage by our local urban teaching staff, I sit here pondering the extent of my career and my importance to the programs and learners to which I dedicate my work day. I find myself reflecting on such a thing after spending a weekend with wonderful friends, most of whom are now retired, except for my husband and I, and one other friend. In fact, it is this friend that has got me thinking about people’s toil, as well as, my recent readings through Ecclesiastes whose verses keep mulling around in my mind.
Let’s top up our coffee’s and I will share my thoughts…
To Each Their Own Toil
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher,“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?… No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. Ecclesiastes 1:2-3..11
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
My toil – my work- is not overly difficult. I am not highly important, and the programs I serve would continue without me… and I am okay with that. I do not mind enjoying a snow day every now and again.
In fact, I am very thankful for my work. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach adults. I am thankful for the administration duties I have been given. I am thankful for the times I can encourage both learners and colleagues in their toil and endeavours. I am thankful for my work’s flexibility and the amazing staff that I am a part of. And of course, I am thankful for the wage I receive in order to work and serve in such a rewarding occupation. I guess you can say that I am finding satisfaction in my toil, as is stated above by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2.
However, what about all those other jobs in the world that need to be done but that I wouldn’t want to do. What about those jobs that are in big urban, congested cities where travelling to and from work is a major part of your day and add on many hours to the work week. Or what about those jobs where you are basically on your own all day with no other person or daylight in site. Or what about those jobs that would have you managing many people and businesses, that require you to be indispensable due to the running of the businesses for consumers’ sake, where you are required to respond to emails and calls regularly, even while on vacation, because if you don’t, you could never catch up when you returned to the office the next business day. For me, I would not want any of those jobs. I would not find satisfaction in the toil of any of them. However, someone has to do those jobs. People do do those jobs. In fact, it is the latter job that our friend, the other non-retired one, toils with.
As our group of four couples were preparing to head out for an evening-on-the town, I watched our friend as he finished up responding to a couple emails. Knowing the corporation he manages, I was thankful for his dedication and pride to the company, and his care and support of those he manages and serves. I wouldn’t want to be that needed, but for him, he is finding satisfaction in his toilsome labour. Yes, I know we need to think about balance in life – which is actually next week’s devotion – but he and his amazingly understanding wife make it work. She loves the company as much as he does and in their conversations, you can tell she supports him fully.
So although it may be very easy for people to judge others in the work they do or where they do it, or how much is required of them, I feel we need to give thanks for those individuals who do the work we do not want to do. We need to pray for them that they are finding satisfaction in their toilsome labour while still enjoying ‘eating and drinking’ with the ones they love. And maybe, just maybe, we could extend some people/companies some grace when things are a bit behind or overly hectic, in order to help make their toil a bit more satisfying.
Ultimately, Mankind has created these huge urban centres that take forever to get from one place to another, and these franchises that need to meet such high expectations from their customers – that’s you and me. So maybe next time, when we demand five star treatment and yet think to judge our neighbour because she’s walking around with a bluetooth stuck to her ear, we should think about the possibility that she may be the upper-management that the front desk clerk, to whom we’ve just made a request, has contacted in order to give us the 5 star immediate service we are expecting. Instead of judging, let’s extend a prayer on their behalf; a prayer of thanksgiving that they are doing such a job and a prayer for their personal satisfaction in their toil. We need people to toil in all god-pleasing occupations under the sun. No one toil is more precious than the other in God’s site. May God supply you with the satisfaction in all your toil. ….and Thank-you!
Prayer: Dear Lord, may my toil be pleasing to you. Help me to see the joy and importance in my toil. Although I am serving others and at times it can be overly mundane or overwhelming, help me to see that in all my toil I am serving you. Bless my toil and grant me a feeling of satisfaction in all I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection: Take time to think about the work and activities you have planned in your week ahead. Give thanks for them, and keep your eyes open to the blessings of contentment and satisfaction in your work. Also, as you go out and about, take notice of other people and their toil. Say a prayer of thanksgiving and God’s blessings over them as they cross your path throughout the week.