Anxious Toil

Journal Entry // April 23, 2021

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2 ESV

What does it mean to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? One indicator of how my life is oriented can be seen in this phrase, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” This is such a good and helpful picture to help reflect on my trust and rest in the Lord alone for all things.

Eating bread is an act of satisfying my hunger. In this case the hunger is the desire for security, safety, and provision. My hunger is a daily reminder that these things are important to me and I am always ensuring that these three things are met. So I take my fill of bread to satiate my hunger for security. But this bread is not The Bread of Life, Jesus. No, the bread I take is of anxious toil.

Toil and work is a good thing done rightly in humble reliance upon the Lord. Anxious toil is my usurping of God’s providence for the reliance upon my own strength and skill. It comes from a heart of fear. Fear not of the Lord which leads to wisdom, but a fear of man. So I take the reigns of my life and then work and work and work to ensure my own safety and comfort, but it is never really enough. I realize that at any point it can all be taken away in an instant. In one brief moment, God can remove from my life every vestige of misplaced hope. My anxious striving that led me to sleepless nights filled with worry and dread produced no real and lasting hope for peace and rest.

Rest is freely given to those who place their hope in the Lord. To those who see this base desire for security, safety, and provision then turn to the Lord in humble reliance. Truly, this reliance upon the Lord means I work hard and toil with much labor, but there is no anxiousness in this labor. I can work in the knowledge and understanding that my loving Father will provide and meet my every need. He will give me precisely what is required to sustain and strengthen me in faith. He has created all things and will freely give and provide for those he loves.

What I need is this:

  1. A humble heart ready to receive as the Lord blesses.
  2. Proper expectations of material provision.
  3. A readiness to abandon everything for his glory.

This is true rest and peace. Understanding that my true riches are found in Christ alone. Not in money or objects or status or purpose or happiness. The Spirit of the Lord dwells within me and draws me near to Christ. My Savior wraps his loving arms around me and embraces me completely. My Father loves and cares for me and provide all that is needed for his son. In this… I rest.

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