"Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for God gives sleep to her beloved." - Psalm 127:1-2
Have you ever noticed how often the good news comes wrapped in what feels like bad news? Or how often the path to new life starts on the other side of the Worst Performance Review Ever?
I can’t help but wonder if the psalmist got a little carried away here—using a shaming word like "vain" three times in as many sentences, driving home his point with all the subtlety of a jackhammer.
Sure, I could overwhelm you with statistics about our anxious toil—how the work week gets longer and vacation time goes unused. I could remind you that one in three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep. And if I really wanted to pile on, I could say your fixation with screens doesn’t help matters.
But who needs that? In these days of non-stop nastiness, who needs another lecture on their shortcomings? Who needs another thing to worry about in the middle of the night?
Asking for an overworked, under-slept friend.
Truth is, most days you do an awesome job. Most days, you want nothing more than to be in sync with the Spirit of Love. Beloved, God loves you so much she created this one thing called sleep, and another thing called sabbath. Check them out! God delights in you and wants you to be able to carry on.
May my work never be for nothing. May my work—and my rest—always glorify you.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.