Beauty in the Toil

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3:10

I used to be a prolific blogger. In the days before Facebook emerged as the social media hangout of choice, I routinely posted on my blog at least two or three times a week, riffing on many of the themes covered in my 2006 book, Reconciliation Blues, which explores the intersection of race and Christianity. The blog became my springboard for interacting with the issues of the day—from politics and religion to pop culture and technology. During the dawn of Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, there was plenty to talk about, and I met many new friends through our online exchanges.

Once platforms like Facebook and Twitter took off, however, the frequency of my posts dropped. The ease of sharing opinions on social media and the ubiquity of inflamed opinions everywhere felt overwhelming. How easy it became to spout off with indignation about any passing controversy. With the tap of a virtual button, we could make sweeping pronouncements about the world in 140 characters or less.

I suppose the idea of having something original to say also became a taller order for me with the proliferation of social media. The multitude of voices created a din that became nearly impossible to decipher. The thoughtfulness and care required for a blog commentary felt unnecessary when folks were cranking out tweets and status updates faster than popcorn at the multiplex. I now average one or two blog posts per year. What used to bring me energy and inspiration began to feel like a chore. Still, even in the midst of my cynicism about social media today, there are days when the inspiration hits and I’m once again able to experience that initial excitement about sharing an idea or perspective through my blog.

Have you ever “lost your groove” for something that used to bring you joy? Has the shine of a particular idea or activity faded in the uneven light of a fickle culture?

The writer of Ecclesiastes was familiar with the fluctuating nature of our impressions about the world. “All things are wearisome, more than one can say,” King Solomon opines. “The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (Ecc. 1:8). Whether it’s our jobs, our families, or our participation in the public square, more often than not these things are informed more by toil than satisfaction.

This would all be quite depressing if that were the end of it, but throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon strikes a sober-minded balance between what faith in God looks like against the backdrop of an unreliable world. It’s the process of toil in this world that gets us through to those inestimable moments of joy. “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” Solomon later concludes. Our call is to find fulfillment not in the thing but in the One who gives it beauty.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some of the things in your life that once brought you happiness that now feel more like a chore? How can you be intentional about seeing the beauty in those things?

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for the good and worthwhile tasks that you give us to accomplish. Help us to remember the value and purpose of those tasks even when their initial joy fades away. Clear our vision to see the everyday evidence of your beauty and purpose in the world, despite our feelings of weariness and cynicism. Amen.


All Things New

Every now and then, you notice it. You recognize the world in which we live is not quite living up to its potential. In the midst of the every day, tiny reminders creep through to reorient us to the truth that this world is not our home. Tainted by the Fall, all of creation yearns for the restoration of all things. We navigate the heartbreaks and the disappointments amid celebration and triumph. We wonder how to tackle injustice while we journal lists of gratitude and thanksgiving. Through it all, God is making all things new, just as he promised. He invites us to join him in the process. What might you contribute through your work and life while you journey through this one life you’ve been given? As a follower of Christ, what role might you be invited to play as God makes all things new? What difference does your vocation make in the work of restoration and redemption? Join the conversation in this series, All Things New.

Featured image by CLloyd Photos. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.