Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Great Experiences of Life, Part 3: Really Hard Work

One of the best things that can happen to a person in this life is to have a period of exceptionally difficult labor. In such times, we learn that our limits extend much farther than we thought they did. We are stretched, and our bodies hurt, our minds ache, and our imagination wanders to times of exquisite freedom. I had such a time a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say that I am a bit surprised at what I was able to accomplish. Now, don't read this as a self-congratulatory piece. Such revelations come to us all. We all have challenges, and we all at some point attain success in meeting those challenges. Mine were scholastic, and students out there can resonate with my experience. But in the office, the field, on the ocean waters, in the music hall, we each discover our own particular tasks that seem insurmountable. What a joy it is to have them, for in having them, we can discover newfound strength and ability.

It is just plain good for us humans to have to work really hard. So much of life we spend fighting hard work. In this country, we tie ourselves in knots trying to get out of hard work. We procrastinate, and call in sick, and change jobs, always seeking that golden desk of easy, fulfilling, and quickly concluded labor. So few find this, though, and even if they do, what have they really achieved? Sure, they've found a way to ease, but they stand to miss out on so much that is fulfilling. We can't always work sixty-hour weeks or something like that. But the times that we do work really hard show us another side of ourself, an ability to push past the fears and naysayers that plague us and drag us down to unproductivity. So little would have been accomplished in history without periods of really hard work. What art we would have missed out on, what rich literature, what incredible athletic feats. Really hard work is awesome. It's cleansing, purifying, focusing, and expanding.

In sharp contrast to worldly thinking, Christians see the goodness of God in really hard work. As I'm trying to do in this series, we recognize the goodness of God in all areas of life, not simply those that involve praise songs and devotions. God's goodness is sprinkled all throughout this life in all types of experiences, and it is our duty to recognize this, and then to live out that goodness. We become far more than overtaxed laborers when we do so. We become a very testimony of praise to God, one living, feeling, and breathing hard. God revels in hard work, I think, and so should we.


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