We are busy people. We don’t have time to do the things we say we’d like to do. We’re overwhelmed with deadlines, projects, and meetings. We are often tired and stressed. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our work defines us. Our worth is measured by the value of our portfolios. Our power is centered in who takes our calls.
We are our resumes. We take pride in our ability to get things done. Accomplishment is our “god.” Activity is our liturgy. Our calendars and planners are our hymnals.
Such emphasis on work and accomplishment has been disastrous for the people of Israel. They have lost their soul, Hosea laments. In their pursuit of economic power and political stature, God’s people have lost sight of what makes them God’s people: compassion for the suffering, justice for the poor, welcome to the stranger. The prophet pleads, “We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.” What matters more than our work is the good that inspires it and is realized from it.
These days of Lent call us to consider to what extent our work has become “our god.” Do we let the pursuit of career, the drive to succeed, the satisfaction of creating take precedence over everything—and everyone—in our lives? Have our ambition and pursuit of wealth made us “orphans” isolated from the people we love most?
As Hosea prophesies, maybe it’s time to let ourselves be “replanted” in the compassion of God.