What is Your Long Labor?
Are you in a season of your life where a circumstance has you in for the long haul? It might not necessarily be a season you wish away–just one that is not always easy. A few examples come to mind.
Parenting. It is where we live with our heart beating in the open air, vulnerable to the highs and lows of the little lives we are raising. Parenting is a labor of love, endurance, continual trial and error, mistakes and triumphs, heart on the floor and then lifted to greatest heights as we weep and celebrate with our flesh and blood the events and circumstances of their lives.
It is a season that for me has lasted seventeen years as my oldest celebrated this year in her life a few months ago. And from what I hear speaking to older, wiser mothers, the ride does not end when our child walks out the front door into adulthood–there is labor ahead, even if it is just the labor of my heart, while my hands rest from years of parent-work.
And it is long.
How do any of us get through it? How do we possibly live so vulnerably for so many years, with soft, pliable hearts that don’t harden just for self-protection and a moment of rest?
Love is what keeps us malleable, it is the hand that picks us up again and again as we strive to be the good parent to our children, when we truly don’t know what we are doing so much of the time. And, I believe it is the love of God that pours through us that allows us the shred of wisdom and forgiveness and grace for each day.
In Beth Moore’s latest study, “Children of the Day”, she speaks of Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus and their letter to the Thessalonian church with encouraging words:
“We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians1:3
Paul was speaking about the faith, labor and hope of the people of Thessolonica who were trying to be faithful in their day to day lives.
In her study, Beth changes the emphasis just a bit on these words:
FAITH CAN BE WORK
LOVE CAN BE LABOR
HOPE CAN GET LONG
Paul acknowledges that the people of Thessolonica who were trying mightly admidst much persecution to love and serve the Lord, were in it for the long haul.
What else in your life is long-hoping, long laboring? What about marriage? When you know that God has your best interest in mind in the midst of a difficult marriage, you have a new perspective. You have to labor for your love. And hoping… it can get long. Hoping for change, for a new leaf to be turned, in yourself or your spouse. With no end in sight. How does one possibly hold on?
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he certainly does not make light of long-suffering. Having been beaten, tourtured, flogged, left for dead, persecuted, run out of town, shipwrecked three times, he is intimate friends with wanting a season of better. Even in this, he encourages us to hang on. In life, whether it’s parenting, marriage, financial troubles, relational troubles, work difficulty, depression, or whatever you want to fill in here, sometimes it’s going to be long.
We hold on, we keep hoping because we trust God and his love for us. He knows what we are going through. As my friend prays, “Your arm, Lord, is not too short to reach us in our struggle.”
For me, accepting that something is going to be long somehow makes it easier. I can settle into the situation, find my reality in it instead of fighting the reality.
When we hold on to the hope that God is good, and will see the circumstances out in our life according to His will—not ours—we can see the situation for what it is, not something to constantly try to escape from. When I accept that raising my children will be a lifeLONG process of joy and heartache, I can embrace the lessons I am learning, and the ways God is growing me right now. I can trust that he will see me and my children through, and loosen my grip of control.
So what is your long labor? Keep fighting to live in the present, learn the lessons meant to be learned, grow as you were meant to grow, and hold tightly to God in the long—ness of it all.
As always, I appreciate your comments! Thank you for being such faithful readers!