Blessings come with new beginnings, as everything is fresh and exciting. I started a job as a junior staff worker with Christian Union last year. My day-to-day life became filled with opportunities to talk with students at Canterbury University about Jesus, which is an amazing privilege.
New beginnings aren't always easy. Before I even started my first week I made some mistakes and got 'told off' in a very gentle way. This put a bit of a sour taste to the beginning of work. After working as a high school teacher—where teenagers felt very comfortable reminding me about how bad they thought I was at teaching—being mildly rebuked so early on felt devastating.
God comforts through others
Shortly after this I went to a café by myself for a break, to read God's Word in a pleasant setting. I felt drained from meeting new students at orientation and appreciated the opportunity to take some time out.
As I was sitting at the café a waiter came with my order. He asked me routinely if I was waiting on anything else. I looked up at him and cheekily asked if there was any free stuff, to which he replied no.
But as he came to clear away my flat white (which was delicious!) he handed me a small cookie on a plate. 'Here you go. You look like you need it.'
What kindness! This really comforted me and brought tears to my eyes. I thanked God for him and for the kindness he showed me. It reminded me that God does sometimes (not always) give small material gifts to comfort us, and they are to be rejoiced in.
God comforts through his Word
I was prompted to read Romans chapter 8. This chapter is a summary of the whole book of Romans, or even the whole Bible! And oh, how comforting!
To know that nothing can separate us from God's love, that I am not condemned by Him because I trust in Christ, that the Spirit of God lives within me and heaven is our ultimate destination—these things are immensely comforting.
God's Word is able to speak to us when we're feeling down. Sure, it can speak to us at any time, but especially when we are not feeling comfortable: often our discomfort is the result of trying to find our comfort in something other than God.
I often find my sub-conscious belief is that 'my work is my worth.' The Bible tells us it is sinful to find our identity in our own efforts, our work, and yet it is very hard to shake.
If you were always being told you were doing a bad job at something you wouldn't stick with it—that's one of the blessings of our culture. However, this blessing does potentially stop us from confronting our idolatry of work as our god. It is not!
As a friend recently pointed out, 'even when everything else has been stripped away, we still have Christ.'
Sometimes we need things to be stripped away in order to let go of them. For me it is definitely this mindset of 'if I can't work I'm worth nothing.' A danger with changing jobs was that I would stop wrestling with this idol; I would just replace it. God did not let this happen, and His Word reminded me where my real worth lies: in Christ.
God comforts through giving peace
After reading Romans chapter 8, an amazing sense of peace washed over me. I do not have to be good at work in order to find worth. I can rest in Christ. He is my worth. This sense of peace allowed me to continue working with Christian Union in the midst of the busy orientation, knowing my worth wasn't tied up in my effort.
If you find your worth in anything other than Christ it will, over time, oppress and devour you. You can never work long enough hours, you can never do all the dishes; you can never study enough material.
Any idol will demand more than you can give. Christ doesn't. His burden is light, because He has taken it up for us. Resting in this is what we're called to do and when we do He gives us peace.
Rachel Bartlett lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband James and her puppy Pip. She helps out with Bible after school studies on Wednesday afternoons.
Rachel Bartlett's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/Rachel-Bartlett.html