I had a conversation with a family member recently who was struggling with his career he had immersed himself in for well over thirty-five years. “Is it worth it?” He asked me. He is finding that the more he invests himself in that particular business and industry the less he feels appreciated and fulfilled. For the first time in his career he was laid off and then forced to take a job, that he admits is less than ideal, to pay the bills. It is a cut-throat time now and employees are treated with little respect because if they complain about their circumstances, there are hundreds out there to take their place. Alberta, especially Calgary, is seeing an economic downturn that is even worse than the one we experienced in the early 80’s. Downtown Calgary is a ghost town compared to ten years ago when it was the oil centre of Canada. The thriving Boomtown has been brought to its knees by a global economic slump, destructive governmental policies and a plunge in oil prices. Never before have Calgarians experienced this kind of “bust” in the oil patch. Thousands are laid off, small oil companies go into receivership and few jobs are to be had in the industry. It effects all Albertans and Canadians adversely when a once prosperous province struggles. There is a trickle down effect when people stop spending money like they used to. Malls are empty with no shoppers, people cut down on travel so tourism suffers, restaurants, car sales, and the real estate market all feel the pinch.
My husband and I experienced the effects of job loss and financial strain in the 80’s but never like this. Thrust into retirement unwillingly, we wonder what the future will bring. To say that there are hard times still ahead for all Albertans is an understatement, so we’re riding the economic roller-coaster like everyone else and hanging on for dear life.
Is it worth it?
I knew immediately this question wasn’t just about economic hardship. He was wondering if the struggle through life is worth it? It’s a question that has been asked numerous times, especially when “good” people see ruthless, not-so-good people thrive and prosper because they use less than honest means to get ahead. The unfairness of having the “righteous” struggle while the unrighteous do not is a frustration for us all. He was asking if there is any point to the daily struggle.
My answer was probably not what he expected.
I said, “No, not if we are only focused on ourselves and what we can get out of life…BUT, it is definitely worth it if we are focused on giving ourselves away and our focus is on eternity.”
I have learned that work, people, government, even family WILL let us down. We live in an imperfect world and if we gain our self-worth by how we (or they) measure up to impossible worldly standards, then we will always fall short. We will never be good enough, have enough money, be bright enough, work hard enough, AND we will grumble and complain that unrighteous people are getting ahead while we are not.
However, if we “seek God first” meaning we are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world, then all these “things” will be added to you. We are to seek the salvation that is inherent in the kingdom of God because it is of greater value than all the world’s riches, fame, pleasures…well…EVERYTHING! (Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”)
Does this mean that we should neglect the reasonable and daily duties that help sustain our lives? Certainly not. But for the Christian, there should be a difference in attitude toward them. If we are taking care of God’s business as a priority—seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the Kingdom with others—then He will take care of our business as He promised—and if that’s the arrangement, we will not be worried about the things that have no eternal value.
My heart was heavy after I talked with him because he was like the rich, young ruler. He was not willing to let go of the everyday “stuff” that was actually holding him back from being happy. He wanted to know if it was “worth it”, but wasn’t willing to let God be the centre of his life. I pray that one day he will see that living for Jesus makes everything one goes through in life soooooo WORTH IT!