To me, Labor Day always brings forth mixed emotions, as the joy of a three-day holiday may be tempered with discomfort, or even pain, over our labor. In our church, several young women have just given birth, and others are anxiously awaiting delivery, so I’m sure Labor Day has a special significance for them this year!
For people who have lost their job, there may be no Labor Day celebration, but instead the heartache of going without, and having faith stretched from one meal or rent payment to the next. For those blessed to be employed, there may be the aggravation of unappreciative employers or disgruntled customers, or the weariness of overwork on too little sleep.
Some may pour their whole being into their career, at the expense of family, social life, or even time for worshipping and serving God, only to feel the pain of being passed over for promotion by the rising star who captured the boss’ attention. Those who play by the rules, support the team, and pay their dues may be sorely disappointed when those in the favored clique, or those who outmaneuver their competition, advance unfairly, despite their lack of experience. Life in the working world is full of trouble and pain, and it seldom seems fair.
Thankfully, God isn’t fair either, because His grace gives believers what we don’t deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9), and His mercy keeps Him from giving us eternal punishment in hell, which our sins do deserve (Romans 6:23). No matter what our earthly situation, believers in Christ can find joy (Psalm 21:1;32:11; Isaiah 29:19; 61:10; Matthew 25:21; Romans 5:11; etc.) and peace (Philippians 4:7) in knowing that He is working all circumstances together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
We can endure the “labor pains” because He has appointed us to a specific occupation, to serve Him with the unique gifts, talents, and opportunities He has given us (1 Corinthians 12:4-6;28; Ephesians 4:11), and to glorify Him in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).. As the bumper sticker says, “Our Boss is a Jewish Carpenter” Who has empathy for our struggles (Hebrews 4:15) and supports us through trials and hardships (Philippians 4:13).
His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He sees, honors and remembers work done for Him and will reward our labor, if not in this world, then in the next, where we can enjoy the rewards forever (1 Corinthians 3:9-14).
Best of all, He knows our sinful, wicked hearts (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10), but He loves us anyway (Romans 5:8). We don’t have to prove our worth, for we have none on our own merits (Isaiah 64:6; John 15:5). He is not interested in our qualifications, but in our justification by His shed blood (Romans 4:25; 5:16-18). Once we commit our lives to Him, we are guaranteed payment of the richest treasure imaginable – life in His presence throughout eternity (John 3:16), no matter for how long or short a time we have been saved (Matthew 20:1-16).
So why is this life often full of pangs of disappointment, physical disability and sickness, and even Godly sorrow? (2 Corinthians 7:10) I believe it is because we long for His return and the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), meaning eager anticipation, of the Rapture, when He will wipe every tear from our eye (Revelation 21:4). Then we shall enjoy eternity with Him in glorified bodies that will never experience pain, sickness or aging (1 Corinthians 15:40-50).
In the meantime, His whole creation is going through labor pains (Romans 8:21-22), anxiously awaiting the day when all will be made new by His refining fire (2 Peter 3:10-12). We groan in our aging bodies (Romans 8:23), yet the quickening pace and intensity of these pangs brings us inevitably closer to that day when we can truly experience being a completely new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).
Once we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), we are born again (John 3:3-8). But on that day when all His children shall be changed and meet Him in the air, we shall live forever and be as He is (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). In the meantime, anticipation of this blessed event, and knowing that our labor for Him is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) helps us endure and even embrace these Labor Day pains!
© 2013 Laurie Collett