June 26, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 137:1 (NRSV)
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down, and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
We live in a world broken by sin. Though at times we experience the goodness of creation as God had intended it to be, often our lives are filled with loss and sadness. This is true in our work when we experience frustration, disappointment, coercion, fruitlessness, or injustice. The example of Psalm 137 gives us permission to share our weeping with each other and with God.
Psalm 137 was written during the Babylonian exile. God’s people had been taken by force from their land to Babylon. Much of their homeland had been devastated by the Babylonian armies. Much of Jerusalem, including the temple, had been destroyed. When the Jewish people remembered what had happened to them, when they remembered Jerusalem and its demolished temple, they wept with grief.
Weeping is a fitting response to the brokenness of this world and the losses it brings to our lives. Sometimes we mourn personal losses, such as the death of a loved one. Sometimes we grieve over the injustice that pervades our shattered world. Sometimes our weeping focuses on our work.
Psalm 137 reassures us that weeping is a normal part of living in a world fragmented by sin. As we weep, we are free to share our sorrow with each other and with God. Through the Psalms, God invites us to lament. God knows and shares in our sorrow.
Gracious God, centuries ago, your people wept as they were in exile in Babylon. They grieved as they remembered what they had lost. Life had not turned out as they had expected or hoped, so they poured out their lament to you.
Thank you, dear Lord, for allowing the laments of your people to be so prominent in the Psalms. Thank you for showing us that grief is a normal part of life in this broken world. Thank you for giving us permission to grieve when things in life are painful. Thank you for inviting us to share our laments with you.
Today, Lord, I want to share with you my weeping over my work. I feel disappointed and helpless. Things are not working out as I hoped they would. I remember how much I thought this job would be perfect. Now, the memory of those dreams makes my reality even more painful.
When it comes to matters at work, Lord, I don’t quite know what to do. But I do know that telling you about it is right. So here is my disappointment, my grief, my sadness. I lay it down before you.
Thank you for hearing me, understanding me, welcoming me, and comforting me. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
God wants to hear about and share in your sorrow.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 137.
You may also wish to read Isaiah 53.
Banner image by Falaq Lazuardi on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Verse in Scripture that Makes Us Most Uncomfortable.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.