Have you ever engaged in a pursuit that you discovered was absolutely pointless after awhile? I have had projects that I had to abandon because I realized I was not suited to the task. Sometimes these experiences are life lessons about trying to do something outside of your natural skill set, also known as “spiritual gifts.” Learning about your own giftedness is a good exercise for everyone, and spiritual gift inventories are easy to find online. I know a fellow who has a significant job helping run a major corporation, and spends his Sundays working in Children’s Ministry. While he is perfectly capable of running any of the administrative functions of the church (and has, on occasion), the one place of serving that brings him joy is working with the kids. He is an incredible blessing to his church! When you work and serve in places that make you feel content, you know you are working in the place to which you’ve been called. If there is no satisfaction, it may be time to move on.
Psalm 127 comes along as a reminder that we must follow the Lord’s leading when it comes to many things: building a house (or church, or family), guarding a city (or church, or family), and doing hard labor (for the church, or for the family).
Psalm 127 (Common English Bible)
Unless it is the Lord who builds the house,
the builders’ work is pointless.
Unless it is the Lord who protects the city,
the guard on duty is pointless.
2 It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late,
eating the bread of hard labor
because God gives sleep to those he loves.
3 No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord;
the fruit of the womb is a divine reward.
4 The children born when one is young
are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.
5 The person who fills a quiver full with them is truly happy!
They won’t be ashamed when arguing with their enemies in the gate.
I want to interject my thoughts on the second paragraph. I don’t think the psalmist means to say that ONLY by having children can you be truly happy. We know that is not the case. Many couples can’t or choose not to have children and are perfectly content with their lives. Having a child is not a guaranteed blessing when they are born into extreme circumstances. Indeed, Paul counsels against even getting married so as to not have distractions from following Jesus. (1 Corinthians 7).
But in those situations where children are wanted and welcomed, children are a gift from the Lord and a continued blessing for those who are called to be parents.
Are you laboring in vain right now with a task that has brought you no joy? Are you volunteering in an area that is wearing you out rather than lifting you up? If the Lord hasn’t called you to it, you are laboring in vain. Think about that, and perhaps take a spiritual gifts test to see where God wants you to serve.
God never calls us to a pointless mission … thanks be to God!