23: Suffering at work (Isaiah 29:13; 58:6)

Scripture ReadingIsaiah 29:1358:6

Christians have traditionally equated the Suffering Servant in Isaiah with Jesus. Isaiah’s picture of the Servant’s suffering reminds us that as servants of God, we may be called to self-sacrifice in our work, as Jesus was.

God’s standard calls us to meet the needs of justice and righteousness through our work. As servants of the Servant of the Lord, we are called to meet unmet needs. In the workplace, this may have many faces: concern for a downtrodden employee or co-worker, alertness to the integrity of a product being sold to consumers, avoiding shortcuts that would deprive people of their input, even rejecting hoarding in times of scarcity.

As members of a people being redeemed by God’s grace, we can be vessels of that grace for the benefit of those around us. Sometimes we have the opportunity to make our workplaces more just, more compassionate, more oriented toward making the world a better place. In doing so, we may enact the servant’s mission in small ways ourselves.

Conversely, at other times, it is difficult to do our work as God intends. Individuals or systems in our workplaces may resist the way God is leading us. Our own sin and shortcomings may short-circuit any good we might have accomplished. Even our best efforts may not seem to make much difference.

Despite the discouragement we often feel, the ultimate result of our work is in God’s hands. We can trust God not only to use what we have done, but in God’s time to bring it to fulfillment.

Prayer: God, you make things right in your timing. Even in times of trouble, even when I don’t see the fruit of my work, may I trust that your will will be done. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Servant at Work (Isaiah 40ff.) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

Author: Theology of Work Project

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