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Formations Lesson for January 31: Wrestling with Work
John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association
January 19, 2010
3 MIN READ TIME

Formations Lesson for January 31: Wrestling with Work

Formations Lesson for January 31: Wrestling with Work
John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association
January 19, 2010

Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 2:18-26; 5:18-20

In a New York Times article dated April 9, 2009, a poll
taken by the American Psychological Association found that 80 percent reported
that the economy’s causing significant stress, up from 66 percent the previous
April.

It further states that anxiety, depression and stress are
troubling people everywhere, even though they may not be suffering significant
economic losses.

One individual, Anne Hubbard, of Cambridge, Mass., though
having not lost her job, house, or savings, has begun having panic attacks over
the economy and a paralyzing fear of losing everything.

She has become so sick to her stomach that she has already
lost 12 pounds and is unable to function.

The Preacher is experiencing his own level of stress as he
confronts his labors and wealth.
His initial despair is debilitating to the point of loathing
and anger — “I loathed all the fruit of my effort for which I worked so hard…”
(2:18 NET).

Like the stress and anxiety felt today over losing all to
the banks and lending institutions, the Preacher fears that all he has worked
for will go to another- his successor, who may not be very wise or frugal.

He despairs over a reality where one works hard and
diligently with “wisdom, knowledge, and skill” only to hand it over to another
“who did not work for it” (2:21 NET).

But out of the despair comes a revelation — the ability to
enjoy one’s labor and its fruits comes from God.

Further it is a divine gift — “God has given them, for this
is their reward” (5:18c).

He observes, “To every man whom God has given wealth and
possessions, he has also given him the ability to eat from them, to receive his
reward and to find enjoyment in his toil; these things are the gift of God”
(5:19 NET).

Thus, regardless of what crisis arises in a secular
environment of recessions and economic depressions, God provides purpose,
empowerment and joy “from his (the faithful worker) activity.”

Richard Foster shares this word of doxology for a day of
labor and service:

“This day has been breathless, Lord. I stop now for a few
moments and wonder:

Is the signature of the Holy over the rush of the day? Or
have I bolted ahead,

Anxiously trying to solve problems that do not belong to me?

Holy Spirit of God, please show me:

How to work relaxed

How to make each task an offering of faith

How to view interruptions as doors of service

How to see each person as my teacher in things eternal

In the name of Him who always worked unhurried. Amen.”