Psalm 127:1-2 Unless the Lord builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
These two verses, if believed, would solve a huge percentage of the stress experienced by just about everybody. In context, the last line makes the most sense translated the way the Japanese does it, which the NIV gives in a footnote: “For while they sleep He provides for those He loves.” The whole point is not that we aren’t to work hard, it’s that we are dependent on God, and thinking we have to do it all is counter-productive at best. We don’t gather around a pile of materials and pray that God would zap them into a house, but neither should we enter into construction without asking Him to guide us and give us strength and wisdom. That applies just as much to organizations as it does to physical construction. It is particularly ironic to see churches and even denominations that are largely human constructs, rather than being extensions of God’s plans for the Body of Christ. The same thing applies to defense, either personal or national. It’s not wrong to study martial arts or to arm yourself in dangerous circumstances, but God is our ultimate protector, and we must never forget it. Verse two is even more broadly applicable, because far too many people burn themselves out trying to make a living, when God is our Provider. It ties in directly with Jesus’ teaching on anxiety, which culminates in His famous instructions to “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) We are to be diligent and faithful, but never forget that we are totally dependent on God.
This naturally applies to me, just as it does to everyone. Growing up in a missionary household, I don’t think I had that strong a connection in my mind between work and income. That connection had to be forged through my own work experiences, which have been quite varied. After I got out of the Army I was willing to do just about any job at all to provide for my young family. None of those jobs lasted very long, but I acquired some interesting, and occasionally quite useful, skills in the process. It was while I was working as a night janitor that we came to the conviction that we had to tithe first, before any other expenses, whether or not we had “enough” money. Very shortly after that I got a position as a photographer for a directory company and our income stabilized. On top of that, our income had been so low for so long that Medicaid paid for essentially everything about our younger daughter’s delivery, even though it was high risk because of a botched first c-section. That was hardly all. We have seen God’s provision countless times, not just financially but in every way, and we are deeply grateful. As a pastor I see people who are frantic to “make a living,” forgetting the One who made them in the first place. I am to teach faithfulness and accountability, but most of all I am to teach faith, because our strength and wisdom are nothing compared to our Creator. By word and by example, I am to teach all to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your protection in the recent typhoon. Thank You for the evidence that at least one of our neighbors has been seeing Christ in us, and has been powerfully impacted. I pray that witness would extend to all who know us, so that many may be drawn to repentance and faith for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!