The 10 Worst Jobs in America+What Are You Working For?

         While everyone is out playing this weekend, I am thinking about work. We have no fish. The nets are blank.  I went out a few nights ago with my daughter---and after hours of bending over multiple nets, we caught five fish. Yes, five. Did we pay for our gas, even?

            This week, Kristi and I spent six hours, until nearly midnight, making smoked salmon sausage, my own new recipe. It was better than I imagined  (SO good!!)  but no one at the dinner table said a word about it.  Silence as they ate (What? Are you kidding? Do you know how long that took us?)

               It took me a lifetime of living to write Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers and two years of writing and praying, and out it goes into the world. What will come back? 

              I am writing a new book now that I began taking notes for 10 years ago. It will take me another year to finish. Will all that work be worth it?

           Sometimes very little of our labor comes back to us. Of what use is it, this work?  And what if you have one of the 10 Worst Jobs in America? (link at end of post). My heart goes out to you----loggers, flight attendants and others. (Can you guess?)

          And to all of you loading the dishwasher for the 79th time this month, only to unload it hours later after you put the 17th load of laundry in for this week . . .  And the report you just filed, the account you just settled, the yard you just mowed, the bedpan you just emptied,  the apple pie you just made, the car you just fixed, the fishing net you just cast---all will need doing again.

      How weary we are of our labors that never end, or only end just in time to begin again.

         All of us, patient weary laborers, can join the Preacher from Ecclesiastes who asked, thousands of years ago, 

“What does the worker gain from his toil?” 

And we toil not only under our everyday work load, but under this weight as well:

 “He has made everything beautiful in its time, “ the Preacher tells us.

Do you know what he is naming beautiful? “To everything there is a season . .. .  Dancing, laughing, love, embracing, building . .. "     Yes, of course—beautiful!  But look at the other side: "Uprooting, killing, tearing down, mourning, scattering stones, hating, dying."


How are these things "beautiful"? 

This is the burden---that we will know some of this in our own lifetimes, that traumatic, tragic and ugly things will befall us, and we won't know why. 

Our lives are too short, our eyes too narrow, our hearts too finite to see how God has and will transform our labor and our suffering. He WILL, but we won't always see it.  

But sometimes God’s time is NOW! And sometimes, even often, we are given glimpses of the beauty and the good he is already making from the work of our hands.

This week, 

A daughter (yes, the work of hands) returns for a visit . . .

On a beautiful hot (for Alaska) day---in between fishing, we earn time off to go swimming! 

        And this most amazing message from a reader: 

 A reader of Forgiving wrote me to tell about her parents who had died more than 30 years ago. She wasn’t sad when they passed---there was so much dysfunction and so little love. In her 20’s, she went to their graves and pounded the dirt in fury, “I hate you! I hate you!” she yelled. She left with her hands dirty and her heart hard. But God. But God was not done with her. God has patiently been bringing renewal and love into her life. And the work of my hands and life gets to be a small part of this. After reading about "honor your mother and father" in Forgiving, she wrote me to say she will go to her mother’s grave on the anniversary of her death----to plant flowers. To plant flowers in the dirt instead of a fist.

I cried.

        We often don’t see fruit from our labor, but know, believe that none of what you do is lost. Nothing you put your hand or mind or heart to, in the name of Jesus, is wasted.

From the Common Book of Prayer, I pray this for all who are weary: 

Dearest Almighty God

"Deliver us in our various occupations
 from the service of self alone,
that we may do the work you give us to do
in truth and beauty 
and for the sake of the common good;
for the sake of him who came among us 
as one who serves,
your Son Jesus Christ Our Lord,
who lives and resides with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."


*The 10 Worst Jobs in America (according to Forbes)