Laboring in Vain? * Advent Devotional


I read somewhere recently that cleaning the house while your kids are awake is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Pretty much.

Laboring in vain takes on a whole new meaning with young kids in the house. I’m a working mom, but even with all the scheduled, productive hours at church and the university, there are still weeks where I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing because there is always more laundry, there are always more dishes, there is always more mess.

If you, like me, long for the day when the Sisyphean task of maintaining a house while small, precious beings spend their free time trying to destroy it gets easier, today’s devotional is for you.

From the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 65:23 (NIV)

They will not labor in vain,
    nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
    they and their descendants with them.

My daily work against the chaos and entropy of a household is small potatoes compared to what the nation of Israel faced when the prophet wrote these words.

They were in exile in Babylon, most of them, camped along the river, refugees far from home. The few who remained in Jerusalem lived among the smoking ruins of a city that had been burned to the ground, its temple razed.

It was an anxious time, to say the least.

It was hard not to feel like their children were born doomed to misfortune.

So the prophet brought them words of hope. That one day a child would be born, a son would be given, and his name would be Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

He would usher in a time of blessing when no one’s labor would be in vain.


Not the small, everyday, holy tasks of parenting.

Not the huge, once-in-a-lifetime, terrifying tasks of making a life as captives.

If you, too, long for a day when your labor will no longer be in vain, take courage. The work we do now–even that which feels as though it is in vain–is seen by the Lord. Nothing escapes his loving attention.

And as we wait for his return, we can hold tightly to this promise.

What feels like it’s in vain in your life right now? How can you invite God in to the work?

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