Time For God: Day 23

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: Psalm 128:2
When you eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Education systems vary around the globe. My British university structure was traditional—an all-or-nothing system—with comprehensive exams. At the end of Year One, I sat nine three-hour exams in two weeks. To fail one was to fail the year. The exams counted as Part I of a two-part degree. Failing one exam required you to repeat the year. No credits were granted for the other exams you may have passed.

Students endured high exam anxiety. Tragically, during each exam season some desperate students ended their lives, unable to countenance failure. One day, a knock at my door ushered in my professor. Nearing retirement, this deeply caring man was checking in on me. He inquired how I was doing in that stressful season.

During his brief visit, he became deeply thoughtful. “As I look back on my life,” he said. “I think of my brother. He is a farmer. He seems to have enjoyed a very simple yet deeply happy life,” he said in a lilting Welsh accent. He paused, looking into the middle distance before focusing back to me. “I have enjoyed my academic career with opportunities to teach, do research, and publish. Sometimes, though, I wonder …if I might not have been more fulfilled by working with my hands.” After many years, my professor’s words still resonate. They also echo our Focus verse, today.

The psalmist observes a vital connection. A bond links our physical labour to the joy of tasting its fruit. Gardeners, farmers, and cooks delight in eating the produce of honest labour. Gardens fill us with joy. Spring bulbs return after a deep winter chill. They signal hope—they appear stronger and more plentiful. Hope quietly persists beneath the bleakest challenge. Flowers emerge at last to grace a sunny room.

Consider the expert artist or artisan. Feel the wonder and amazement at watching the skill of human hands. Witness the line-up to purchase food and crafts from the local Farmers’ Market. Hear such joy in the sounds of guest musicians. Their shared vocation builds into community, delivering delight. A hint of back to the earth echoes in our deepest human yearning to return to Eden—a new heaven, and a new earth.

The psalmist captures that joy succinctly: When you eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Let your active hands produce good fruit.

How are you blessed by another’s handicraft? How do art and artifact reflect the Creator’s handiwork? Using your hands today, how will you to bless a friend?

Lord of the Harvest, engage my hands and heart to bless a friend today. Amen.

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