The Blessings of Having Work

by Henrylito D. Tacio

We were not put here on earth to play around. “Life is real; life is earnest,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We are not here to “have fun,” which seems to be the chief ambition of so many. There is work to be done. There are responsibilities to be met. Humanity needs the abilities of every man and woman.

If you are working, consider yourself blessed. Will Hoffsuemmer shares this story: A grain of wheat came to the Lord God and said, “Lord of the world, since I have become the daily bread of mankind, why couldn’t you have made me such that they could eat me the way I am? As it is, they must first harvest me, then grind me into flour, which they must then make into dough, and finally baked me in an oven. Isn’t that all really a waste of time?”

“No, it is not a waste of time,” the Lord replied. “On the contrary, I did that way on purpose both for your own good and for the good of humans.”

The Lord God explained. “Let’s talk about you first,” He said. “It wouldn’t be good for you to go around boasting that you give men life and strength, all by yourself. As it is, humans cannot just pick up grains of wheat and eat them unless they first turn them into bread. And to do that, they need fire and water and their hands. And so bread does not depend on you alone; otherwise, you would go around proudly announcing that if it were not for you, no one would be fed.”

“As far as people are concerned, it would not be good for them to find their bread al ready for them on the breakfast table. Instead, they have to be involved in producing it. They have to plow and sow and harvest and grind the wheat and then bake it into bread. That does them good: it makes them feel that they are dependent on me.”

Even if you don’t like to work, you still have to work. Even if you are sleeping, some parts of our body – like lungs, heart, kidney, and brain — are still working. You may abhor work but you cannot escape from it. As American president Abraham Lincoln once admitted, “My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh – anything but work.”

As long as we are alive, we have to work. “I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs,” says Henry L. Mencken. Even retirees themselves still work. For they know that if they stop working, it simply means “goodbye cruel world.”

As one sage explains, “No one has a right to live in idleness and expect to live long and be happy. The ship anchored in the harbor rots faster than the ship crossing the ocean; a still pond of water stagnates more rapidly than a running stream. Our unused minds are subject to atrophy much more rapidly than those in use. The unused cells in our brains deteriorate much faster than those which are continuously exercised. Hence, to remain young, we must remain active.”

Jose Ortega y Gasset knows this fact well: “An unemployed existence is a worse negation of life than death itself. Because to live means to have something definite to do – a mission to fulfill – and in the measure in which we avoid setting our life to something, we make it empty. Human life, by its very nature, has to be dedicated to something.”

“Without work” commented Albert Camus, “all life goes rotten.” Why is this so? Listen to the words of Karl Abraham: “A considerable number of persons are able to protect themselves against the outbreak of serious neurotic phenomena only through intense work.” That’s only one reason. Others include dignity (people respect you because of what you are doing), money (allowing yourself to get a good life), and happiness (because you have something to do).

As such, if you have work, be sure to love your work. H.L. Neri reminds: “If you don’t like your work, you’ll need three times the energy: to force yourself to work, to resist the force, and finally to work. If you love your work, your desire to do it will be like a wind to proper your ship with much less fuel.

“If you like your work,” Neri continues, “you work no more: for work, when you like it, is work no longer, but sheer enjoyment! If you enjoy your work, you’ll work and work without counting the hours – and you’ll reap and enjoy more earnings as well!”

It was God Himself who ordained work: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground” (Genesis 3:19). Adam, the first man, was given the job to take care of the Garden of Eden. All throughout the Bible, God has commanded man to work. In the Ten Commandments, He said, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”

Henry Ward Beecher expounds it this way: “When God wanted sponges and oysters, He made them and put one on a rock and the other in the mud. When He made man, He did not make him to be a sponge or an oyster; He made him with feet and hands, and head and heart, and vital blood, and a place to use them, and He said to him, ‘Go work.’”

In the Bible, perhaps one of the most often quoted chapters is Psalm 23. Someone has adapted the said chapter with emphasis on work. It reads:

“The Lord is my real boss, and I shall not want. He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me. He gently reminds me to pray and do all things without murmuring and complaining. He reminds me that he is my source and not my job.  He restores my sanity everyday and guides my decisions that I might honor him in all that I do.

“Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mails, system crashes, unrealistic deadlines, budget cutbacks, gossiping co-workers, discriminating supervisors and an aging body that doesn’t cooperate every morning, I still will not stop — for He is with me! His presence, His peace, and His power will see me through.

“He raises me up, even when they fail to promote me.  He claims me as His own, even when the company threatens to let me go. His Faithfulness and love is better than any bonus check. His retirement plan beats every plan there is! When it’s all said and done, I’ll be working for Him a whole lot longer and for that, I bless His name.”

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