Too often, I think only of the task to be accomplished and forget the importance of my motivation or the unseen ramifications that it might have.
Recently, we were reading 1 Thessalonians, and were struck by Paul’s prayer in his introduction. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Last week, I took a 2-day personal retreat, and spent some time meditating on this verse. What is the difference between a work produced by faith or produced without faith? With faith, we look beyond our own abilities, and seek God’s glory and desires, not just our own gain.
Imagine the difference in how you feel when someone does something for you out of love rather than out of duty or to advance their own interest. I tend to be a task-oriented person, and like to tick things off my to-do list. This is such a good reminder for me, to live and work and connect with people in LOVE; in assurance of God’s love for me, and a motivation of love for other people and God.
Next week (March 8) is the International Day for Women, and in conjunction with that the Presbyterian Church in Congo held a women’s day of prayer on March 2. Women spent all night praying in their local parishes on Thursday, and then Friday morning came together to a central location to worship and pray together. Unfortunately, it started raining at 6am on Friday, and rained all day. When it rains hard, life stops here and it is like a “snow day” in the Midwest. We live just down the street from the parish where the Friday prayer event was to take place, so I was still able to go (and they still held it, much to their credit, despite starting several hours late).
A women’s choir sings at the women’s prayer event on Friday
The women sang, prayed, and learned together on the theme of justice and righteousness. So many of these women are personally feeling injustice in their families. During a time of sharing prayer requests, several women grieved over the lives of their children – those who are unable to afford to finish secondary school, or once they finish are unable to get a job. Children who die young of diseases like malaria or tuberculosis, or who leave home to pursue work in the diamond mines and never come home again. Life feels so fragile and uncertain here. When I hear people say “Only God - only He can make a way,” I know that they are speaking sincerely, filled with faith and a recognition of the limitations of their environment. I am continually amazed at the endurance I see in people around me. For people who have hope in our Lord Jesus, the endurance fueled by that hope is truly remarkable. Women in Congo, especially, seem to embody this endurance, doing the hard labor of caring for a family in a challenging environment, and keeping hope alive for their children. I hope that my life also will be characterized by “work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ!”