We spend the majority of our daily waking hours at work. Sometimes work seems like all we do.
The endless cycle can be daunting, exhausting, or boring. We even believe the lie that our work is a waste of time, taking away from better aspects of our lives. We can end up resenting our jobs, overworking, underworking, or generally being unsatisfied with what we do day in and day out.
Yet Christians are called to a life of joy. How can we reconcile this dissatisfaction in our work lives with the grand call to rejoice in the Lord?
Habakkuk: The Righteous Can Rejoice in God
The book of Habakkuk teaches that the righteous can rejoice in God because of his faithfulness. It is a dialogue between the prophet Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk complains to God about the injustice pervading Judah.
God answers Habakkuk, saying “I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation,” (Hab. 1:6) and tells him the Chaldeans would conquer and destroy Judah. That was how God, in his perfect justice, decided to correct the injustice within his people.
Habakkuk is shocked by God’s response. He is certainly not rejoicing. He replies to God with another complaint, this time in utter fear. He asks God how he can use an evil nation to conquer God’s own people.
God tells Habakkuk to wait for the day of the Lord. He explains that in due time he will judge all the unrighteous, including the Chaldeans, in his perfect justice. But in 2:4, God says, “the righteous shall live by his faith.” He gives Habakkuk a glimmer of hope showing him that, in his perfect mercy, those who trust in and follow the Lord will be saved.
As we reach the end of the book, Habakkuk is rejoicing in God in a song he writes about God’s past faithfulness to his people. He didn’t get good news in worldly terms—Habakkuk and his people would soon be conquered by a wicked nation. But, he prayed to God with his concerns, and was shown the bigger picture. As he reflects on God’s past faithfulness and looks to a day where God will right every wrong and correct every injustice, he rejoices.
His book points to Jesus. Knowing that we find our righteousness in him, we can rejoice because we can live and are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ.
Rejoicing in the Good, the Bad, and the Boring
How do we live this out in our daily lives? How do we rejoice in God at work and otherwise, in the good, the bad, and the boring?
I asked this question around the office. Here is what a couple IFWE staffers had to say:
I just recently built my house. It was a long and difficult process, and not everything has ended up perfectly right. I get distracted from enjoying the house when I see little imperfections like crooked boards. The four-chapter gospel helps me rejoice in what I have because it shows me the full picture. We are in the period of Redemption, where things of this world are just a shadow of what’s to come. It reminds me that there are big and small problems in this world, but in the next chapter of Restoration, there won’t be any problems or imperfections. There won’t be crooked boards. Keeping this mindset allows me to rejoice in what I have without being bogged down by the imperfections because I can look forward to what is to come.
In the same way that Habakkuk was inspired to rejoice in the Lord by seeing the bigger picture of God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel, we can be encouraged to take joy in the Lord by seeing the bigger picture of God’s faithfulness to us in the gospel.
Yes, our answered prayers may not always be positive from the world’s point of view. We might have some crooked, or even splintered boards in this period of Redemption. But, this should not hamper our joy in God’s perfect faithfulness to those who trust in Christ for their righteousness, which will be fully seen in Restoration.
Another staff member continues this thought, helping us think through how to view our circumstances:
Peace and joy for me are most often interrupted by circumstances. Whether a diagnosis requiring heart surgery, or chemotherapy or unexpected outcomes of diligent effort at home, church or work, my ability to rejoice in God is hindered by circumstances when my circumstances become my focus. But God does not require us to produce specific outcomes. The reward from the Master to the five-talent servant in the parable of the talents was not “good job on returning ten talents” it was “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25;21) and it was the same for the two-talent servant. When I keep my focus on the Master and do my best to be faithful with everything He has given me in all that I do, I can rejoice in any circumstance. The choice is mine and is one of obedience. I must keep my eyes “fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) and I would add, our faithfulness.
God tells Habakkuk, “the righteous shall live by his faith,” and Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith.” Christians shall live by Jesus. When we focus on Christ, we are empowered to choose joy, to choose to steward all we have for his glory, to choose obedience to him. We can rejoice in God, no matter the circumstances – be they good, bad, or boring.