Labor Day – a day to rest from work as we celebrate the gift of work. Work gives meaning and purpose to our life. It gives us a reason to get up each morning. Freud said, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” On Labor Day we focus on one half of this equation.
Work is important, but so is rest from labor. Our psalm for this week is one of a group of seven psalms that focus on trust and confidence in God: 4, 11, 16, 23, 27, 62, 131. It is a welcome respite from the laments we’ve been reading.
The author is under some form of attack, “How long will you set upon a man to shatter him, all of you, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his eminence. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouth but inwardly they curse.” (3-4) But he isn’t fazed by the attack. He trusts in God, his rock and fortress. Others may try to knock him down as if he were a leaning wall or tottering fence but he is strong because God keeps him strong. “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.” (2)
The writer knows instinctively that which Augustine wrote centuries later, “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” He states, “Only in God is my soul at rest; from him comes my salvation.” (NAB vs. 2) Or “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” (5)
Work is good. Psalm 62 ends by stating, “You requite a man according to his work.” (12) or in other translations, according to his deeds. We are judged by our deeds, but rest is essential as well. True rest is only found in God.
There are numerous health benefits associated with meditation, or stillness before the Lord. The Mayo Clinic states the following on their website, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may improve certain medical conditions. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858)
For a chart on the health benefits of meditation go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/meditation-health-benefits_n_3178731.html
Meditation can help us gain a new perspective on the problems assaulting us. The author of this psalm was able to recognize the transitory nature of life and success in this world. “Men of low estate are but a breath, men of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.” (9)
Some days it seems like work is unending. There’s always more to be done, two more items to add to your list for each one you cross off. Worries about work or family can keep us awake at night, depriving us of needed rest. Stress robs us of rest even when not working. What’s a person to do?
Meditate on God and God’s word. In this ever-changing world, God is a stable force, a rock we can cling to. Only God can give us the kind of rest we most desire and need. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (8)
How do you find rest in this crazy world we live in?
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