Like any good father, God allows his children to go through some pain, but he never enjoys it, and he only allows it because he knows that the pain will ultimately produce greater joy. We can trust that God is good because of what his Word reveals about his character. He saved the children of Israel from slavery when he didn’t have to. He sent Jesus to die for our sins when he didn’t have to. We see Jesus’ heart break over every lost sinner and every suffering soul.
For most of us, between work, family, kids, and just managing life, we’re tired. It doesn’t help that we have a culture that chronically overworks, even going so far as to teach overwork as a value. Every study out there, of course, shows that overwork is bad for us—for our families and our health. We Christians usually know that God doesn’t want us to overwork. And yet Christians don’t seem to be any less tired than everyone else in our frenetic culture.
What Martha was doing—serving and taking care of people—was not bad. She was even using her spiritual gifts. Jesus’s gentle rebuke of her was that she had let many good things keep her from the one essential thing. That’s almost always how distraction works. Like Martha, you trade something that you only get one shot at for a bunch of things that, in the scheme of life, aren’t that important.
All of your work will be done for one of these two ends: as an offering to glorify God or as a way to justify yourself. And if your work is really just your 10 lonely seconds—or 70 lonely hours a week—to justify your whole existence, “rest” will be out of the question. You will never be able to rest because you will always be wondering, “Have I done enough? Am I significant enough? Do I matter now?”
As you read through the amazing promises of Psalm 91, do you ever have doubts spring up? The psalm seems to be saying that if you trust God, nothing bad will happen to you, and your life will go smoothly. (Even to the point that you won’t stub your toe!) And, the opposite seems to be implied as well: If things aren’t going well, you must not be trusting God. That’s a troubling conclusion, isn’t it?
We often see the will of God like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story: We have two doors in front of us, and one probably leads to peace and prosperity and the other to doom and destruction. When things go wrong later, we look back and think, “If I had only known the right door!” How do we know what God wants us to do in any given situation?