by Rachel Thompson
Your email inbox alerts you to new messages and your phone rings repeatedly, while the organized piles are scattered across your desk. Your manager walks in to ask if you would be willing to take on another project. Or you are a mother at home whose newborn twins won’t stop crying and whose toddler won’t nap, all while you are a week behind in math lessons with your six-year-old. Or you are a church worker, far from family and friends, daily being told by members of your congregation that they may need to cut your salary, all while asking you to teach their children, listen patiently to their troubles and visit their sick and dying.
Job stress is real for all of us. It is overwhelming and infuriating. It is painfully exhausting. It is by the sweat of our brow that we eat bread.
Stress causes us to suffer; it wears on our bodies and damages our mental well-being. How do we cope when the burden of our daily tasks seems too great to bear?
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Rom. 5:3-5a). Scripture tells us that suffering produces perseverance, and yet we feel as though suffering weakens us. We don’t endure. We break down, ever gazing inward at our own weak selves.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Our suffering is transformed here, in the bitter suffering of Christ that He endured to His death. All weakness, all weariness, all brokenness is laid upon Him. In exchange for our burden, He pours upon us His love and forgiveness. He clothes us in His righteous character in the waters of Holy Baptism. By Baptism, our weakness is buried in His death, and we are raised into a hope that cannot be put to shame. We are raised into the newness of His life.
Our days will be weary and long, but He will sustain us with His Word and strengthen us with the holy food of His body and blood. By the sweat of His brow, we eat the bread of life. We endure with rejoicing and with hope because this is what Christ’s merciful suffering gives to us. Christ’s suffering. Christ’s endurance. Christ’s character. Christ’s hope. All given to us. Freely.