The Source of Our Joy and Security in Difficult Times

barley harvest field

The blessing of work is not without challenges. Assisting dismissed workers for years taught me that. Things may be going well one minute only to turn complicated another. Your company can close shop. You may not get that increase or promotion. You can be dismissed arbitrarily.

That’s how it is in the world. That’s how it is in the workplace.

An old adage says, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” For Christians, maybe we should add “joyfully”. But how can we have joy at work when challenges are overwhelming? How are we to honor the Lord in the face of difficult situations at work and in life?

Excellence in the Midst of Difficulty

In the book of Ruth, we see a Moabitess trying to make both ends meet in Bethlehem. Ruth was a foreigner, a gleaner, and a widow who was in constant danger while she gleaned (Ruth 2:22). She had a dependent—an elderly mother-in-law named Naomi, whose husband and two sons had died in Moab.

But look: “You are a woman of excellence (Ruth 3:11, NASB),” remarked Boaz. Another translation reads: “You are a worthy woman (ESV).” What could have made Boaz see Ruth as excellent, when instead of achievements, connections, and independence in her portfolio, she had obstacles?

Her prospects did not look good, yes, but God decided to favor her by:

  • Allowing her to choose to go to Israel and be counted among the chosen people of God;
  • Giving her a faithful old woman to mentor her in righteousness and wisdom; and
  • Blessing her with a determined spirit and a strong body to work hard from morning to evening (Ruth 2:7;17).

In addition, Ruth was also very in love with the God of Israel. She knew that it’s not about her #relationshipgoals (Ruth 1:16-17). Thus, she chose to be with an old woman who had no son and past childbearing, though this surely weakened her chance of ever getting married (Ruth 1:11-13)!

Have you ever thought of your work as God’s instrument to carry out His plans for your life, the church, and the world?

The Work of Grace and Excellence Unfolds

In some areas in the Philippines, there are still the likes of Ruth who collect grains dropped by harvesters. Such workers cannot demand that more grains be left behind. After all, gleaners just pick up what is left.

Elsewhere, there are underpaid workers, employees who are forced to resign, and those who have been dismissed unjustly. Who will protect them when the law is broken? In this world, it’s safe to say that no one is really secure in his employment!

But the story unfolds, and we see that from her afflictions, the Lord delivered Ruth. In her diligence, God was displayed. While God was doing something in her life, she let Him have His way despite the difficulty.

In the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, the birth of the Savior of Israel and the world would eventually take place. Ruth’s menial work was used by God to fulfil a grand promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; Matt. 1:5)!

Have you ever thought of your work as God’s instrument to carry out His plans for your life, the church, and the world?

The Only Source of Joy and Security

The key to her excellence was God. It was all by the grace of God. Her choice to follow Naomi was from God. Her strength to work joyfully all day was from God. The redeemer husband she sought and received was from God (Ruth 3:10). Excellence is grace, and it is from God alone, who deserves the praise.

As Christians, we sometimes doubt whether the Lord will indeed take care of us. But we have an encouragement in the story of Ruth today. When we hit our metrics or quota, we can be joyful and humbly give the honor due to the Lord. When our employer is not just, still, we can be joyful and praise the Lord.

We cannot picket before the throne of God or bask in a glory we don’t own, for everything we have is by His grace alone. Joy that is undisturbed by circumstances is a mark of excellence in any workplace. And it is pleasing to the Lord.


More Word and Witness Articles

The Source of Our Joy and Security in Difficult Times

Pull quote: Have you ever thought of your work as God’s instrument to carry out His plans for your life, the church, and the world?

Passion for the Word

Nov 20 to 26 -- Romans 12:2 (NASB 1977) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

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