Are you tired?
Are your days and nights filled with test after test, module after module, and deadlines one after another?
Do you feel like you are hanging by a thin thread, trying to make it through another day to finish, anxiously thinking if what you do is enough just to make sure you pass?
Or you might feel like you are drowning? You try to be on top of everything, keeping yourself afloat, and swim through the waves of your responsibilities. You balance being a good student, a responsible child at home, an intentional leader in church–living up to people’s expectations.
We have glorified “hustle” culture—overworking is the way to go, and resting is for the lazy.
Let’s face it. We have become a restless generation. Millennials are now known not only as the “entitled” generation but also as the “burn-out” generation. This world made us believe that nothing will get done unless we move, we have no one to ultimately rely on but ourselves, and to achieve success, we must take it into our hands to realize it. As Erin Griffith summarized in her The New York Times article, we have become a generation desperately striving to meet high expectations for ourselves, and raised up expecting high grades and extracurricular achievements will help us land our dream jobs.
We have glorified “hustle” culture—overworking is the way to go, and resting is for the lazy. We hustle as if our whole life depends on what we do—our performance and achievements in school, our future jobs, our future success in life, and our identity. Even Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, champions this idea in his tweet: ”There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week”.
Unfortunately, if success can be achieved in that way, we have missed one important variable to this success formula. King Solomon, the wisest man who lived on earth, wrote in Psalm 127 the truth we all need to know in this hustle culture.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Unless the Lord will work and bless our toiling, success is not guaranteed.
This passage explains to us the reality of life we often missed—without the Lord’s blessing, all human toils are worthless. (ESV Study Bible)
Unless the Lord will work and bless our toiling, success is not guaranteed. We are all wasting our energy. It reminds us where success ultimately lies: God is the one who gives success. It also reminds us of our finiteness as human beings–we can’t do anything apart from God, He holds our every breath, and He gives and takes away.
God doesn’t want us to glorify anxious toiling, the kind of working hard that depends solely on self-effort, as if everything rises and falls on our power. Lest we realize this now, the Bible says we work in vain—it will be fruitless and unsuccessful. Instead, what God wants us to know is that we can rest. And we rest when we gain the right perspective of our part and God’s part.
Don’t toil as if you can’t trust the God who created you and sustains you. Because we have a God who knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8), He will meet our needs just at the right time. Because we have a God who said His yoke is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30), we don’t need to burden ourselves with loads beyond our strengths and abilities just to prove something. And because we have a God who gave even His very life and assures us “how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32), we can boldly ask our Heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. (Matthew 7:11)
we rest when we gain the right perspective of our part and God’s part.
Let us work hard and do our best for the Lord. Let’s not waste our time and maximize the time and energy God is giving us everyday. Let’s pursue excellence in all the things placed in our hands. This passage does not give us the excuse to procrastinate and take it easy, but it wants us to have the wisdom that working hard must also be entrusted to God in faith.
When we put our hard work in the right perspective, we can now enjoy another precious promise of God to His beloved children: “He grants sleep to those He loves.”
Can you stop and put to rest whatever it is that you are doing right now?
Now let me ask you again. Are you tired?
Can you stop and put to rest whatever it is that you are doing right now? Entrust whatever you have finished for today to the Lord, recognize your own limits, and seize the gift of sleep?
I pray that as you read this, it will be a sweet reminder of God’s love to you when you put your head on your pillow to sleep. You can rest finally, knowing God’s got your back and tomorrow is another day to work hard and live by faith.