By Lee Taylor. This conversation took place in a Sunday School class when the question was asked, “What attribute of God do you see most clearly in your daily work?” In a class including many high-level professionals, Mary Long gave the first response, “I see God’s long-suffering in my job.”
“Mary, what do you do for a living?”
“I work for Whitman’s Candy Company. I am a ‘lidder.’ That means I put the lids on every other box that comes down the line. Another woman does the ones I skip.”
“Does it take long-suffering to do that every day?”
“Oh, does that take long-suffering! That takes a lot of long-suffering and patience to do it every day. That really takes a lot of long-suffering!
“Then, too, I want to be a good witness on my job. A lot of the women I work with are hard to deal with. I need long-suffering to get to know them, sometimes just to put up with their problems. I didn’t used to be able to handle them at all. Now I am learning there are a lot of people who need Jesus in my work place. It really takes patience to deal with them. I want the same kind of long-suffering God had with me so I can show it to them.
“And I see the long-suffering that God has with us. We fail Him so many times.”
The class went on to reflect on God’s long-suffering with us, even as Christians. We go to him for forgiveness time after time. He does not treat us as so many boxes coming down the assembly line for forgiveness. He deals with each of us gently and personally-in long-suffering; we are His people.
Sometimes we can look at our work as being closely aligned with one of the great attributes of God or one of the names used in the Bible to refer to who He is. Sometimes it is easier to link our work to what He does. Our work is an extension of either who He is so that He can be known through our work, or an extension of what He does so that His works may be known through our work.
People in legal professions might think of God’s justice. People in social work of God’s kindness. People in the grocery business of God’s providence. People in politics of God’s power.
A restaurateur may draw a vision for daily work from Christ preparing breakfast for the disciples by the seashore after his resurrection. A military person might see God’s hosts as revealed to the servant of Elisha. The stories of the bitter waters at Mara purified for the children of Israel in the wilderness might be the right image for someone who works in water treatment.
In our daily work, we each see unique facets of God’s character and of His great works. He teaches us each unique things. We need to bring all these things together into the Body of Christ.
We need Mary’s under