I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright…”

Psalm 111:1

 

Looking Up into the Sycamore Tree and BeyondI spend much of my workday in front of a computer screen. One of my challenges is keeping a good posture. I tend to lean forward, with shoulders hunched over my keyboard. Not exactly a prime example of good ergonomic practice! But, that’s what happens to me when I’m focused on my work. I have my head down, both literally and figuratively.

Keeping your head down at work — while perhaps unavoidable on occasion — is not a good, long-term posture. Instead, Psalm 111 reminds me that thankfulness—an upward orientation — is the key to a truly human life, to truly human work.

Psalm 111 suggests the importance of the core human discipline of cultivating gratitude to God. And, it implies that the discipline is to be lived in all of my work. My whole heart — all my desires and affections which are engaged in and developed through the varying aspects of my work — is to be expressed to God in gratitude. This is not easy. Work is often difficult and disappointing. We live in a broken world. Still, the psalm hints at a greater reality: that we live in a fundamentally good creation. Gratitude to God for the good world of work in which he has placed us is always a good, long-term posture to take.

The psalm also recalls that we are meant to engage in our work in a community of people. It is easy to think of my work as my work. But, this psalm stresses the foundational reality that that we are not meant to do our work in isolation. Human beings are not created to work alone (Genesis 2:18). In the same way, our gratitude finds its fullest expression when experienced in community. I find my gratitude is increased when it is shared in company with others.

QUESTIONS:

What is your usual posture at work? How often do you take time to look up?

Do you practice cultivating gratitude to God? If so, how? What are ways in which you might further cultivate this practice?

PRAYER:

Thank you, Lord, for the psalmist’s reminder to give thanks. So much of my work life is focused on the important tasks at hand that I often lose sight of the larger context of my work. Help me to lift my eyes to see my work as part of the good world of work in which you have placed us, and to give thanks in it.

Give me the grace to develop the discipline of gratitude in all of my work. Thank you for the community of people with whom I share my work. Help me to be grateful for them and to share my gratitude with them today. Amen.

 

This post originally published on September 13, 2015.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryHe Causes Us to Remember