A black hole is a place of total nothingness. It's a time in our life when God removes the resources and supports that we normally rely on to feel secure-our careers, finances, friends, family, health and so forth. For years, we may have thought that we were trusting in God, but in reality, we were trusting in people and things for our own sense of safety. Suddenly, everything we have relied on vanishes-and we feel naked and defenseless against the world. We feel abandoned by God.
Yet even though work is an important, God-given part of life, by itself it falls far short of describing the entire significance and identity of an individual. There are many other aspects to being a person-personal growth and development, family, citizenship, friendships, and faith, to name a few. So to define oneself almost entirely by one's occupation is inadequate. It tends to place more value on the self than on God; more on activity than on character; and more on success than on relationships. In short, it tends to equate employment with human worth.1 Sam.3:20
When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:12-14)
Aaron was a good employee. He worked in our shipping/receiving area, primarily third shift. He contracted cancer and fought it for a year before dying at the age of 26.
Aaron had no family living nearby, nor was he part of a local faith community. When his health crisis struck, our company chaplain shared the love of Jesus Christ with Aaron and his family, helped them cope throughout the year, and provided the family with an oasis of solace after his death. We at Zion Industries all cared for Aaron, but it was our chaplain who spent time with him, in the hospital and at home. We all could share many good stories about Aaron, but it was our chaplain who really knew him and who performed the funeral service. We, as a company, made some difference in the life of an employee and his family, but it was our chaplain who made a lasting difference.
Owning a car is a fact of life in our society. To be sure, there are those, particularly in large urban areas, who are able to get around by using public transportation, but the lifestyle of today's average family makes owning at least one car a practical necessity. So, having this need for a car as a "given," what is the most economical way to meet that need?
The family unit is the basic building block of society; if families are healthy, so is the culture. Conversely, sick families produce sick nations. As the scriptures above declare, Abraham-the earthly "father of the faith" (Rom. 4:16)-was charged by God to raise a successful, natural family as a parallel act to laying a proper foundation for the spiritual family God would build through him. Indeed, commanding his children and his household-in order that God could, in fact, bless all the nations of the earth through him-clearly says that to change the earth God's way, we must first change our families.
There is a scene in the movie Elf-a great family film sure to become a holiday classic-that should be familiar to many American families. When the father, played by James Caan, arrives late to dinner, he doesn't stop moving. Instead he fills his plate while telling his wife and son that he'll be eating in his bedroom because he's "very busy" and has brought home a pile of work he has to do.
In the best-seller The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, Juliet Schor reported that work hours and stress are up, and family time and sleep are down for all classes of employed Americans. Working moms come home to a "second shift"; fathers find themselves juggling new and multiple work and family roles; and single parents are almost always on the brink of being overwhelmed. Industries overwork us or, perhaps worse, underwork us by making us "temps" or part-timers. Some workplace policies are family-friendly, but many are not. And many leisure activities do not promote real recreation and renewing space in our lives. Such work and family patterns can lead to stress, depression, and marital and family conflict. Moving from burnout to balance can be challenging.