April 23, 2018 by Kgalalelo
I was sitting in my prayer room at home two weeks ago and meditating about a few things that are at the core of our lives. The societal structures seemed to be malfunctioning all around especially things that gives meaning to our existence. In Joshua 1:7 the Lord spoke to Joshua, Moses’s assistant saying “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it”. Joshua was commanded to reflect on the book of the law and not problems and God promised to be with him and never forsake him. He was about to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and he had to be focused and not be swayed by inapt issues that were sure to arise.
I lit my candles in preparation for prayer and as I closed my eyes the workplace was first on the prayer list. Everything was transitioning in my own environment; movement in departments, dissatisfaction all over, service delivery aspects, strained relationships, anxiety in the workforce and a sense of hopelessness that I could pick up extensively. People were functioning under tremendous pressure to produce work of excellence and I could discern despite the load, a general longing to function alike and produce desired results. I also felt perplexed at times and as I shared with my acquaintances I realised that most of us felt disoriented at times which caused even more strenuous relations. There is an ideal work atmosphere that yields harmonious interactions that everyone aspire for, but it’s not always possible to get things working as smoothly as one would wish.
Transformation affects everyone and people react and handle it the best way they know how. Others, having been in the enterprise for years and got used to a particular way of operating, find it difficult to give up the old for modern ways of functioning. The young and vibrant on the other hand require stimulation which at times don’t resonate with the old folks. Moreover, people are skilled in different areas but others are misplaced which easily cause frustration. Resources become scarce as well which makes it difficult to complete every task sensibly.
We also bring our socialisation into the workplace and expect people to change or conform to the picture we have in our minds on how things need to run. We exchange blows and quarrel because of expectations not only from the employer but expectations we place on ourselves and each other. We are at loggerheads because others are not pulling their weight and making it difficult for some to function optimally. It’s like a tug of war, others pull more than the others and at the end, little is achieved for the day and those who have been pulling more, experience fatigue. They either accept circumstances as they are, make plans to shift to a more conducive milieu, bicker in a way of trying to improve things to get others going or cease to make a significant effort. The spirit of weariness takes over.
We all try to adapt to the values, beliefs, assumptions and unwritten rules that form part of the culture of an organisation and sometimes fall short. This affect how people interact internally and with external stakeholders. No enterprise seek to promote the culture of slackness or lethargy and the perceived discontent leads to strive amongst teams in order to correct the imbalances at times. Such can sap anyone’s energy and affect the mental and emotional state of people but how we handle things is key to resolving concerns in the workplace including the application of the established guidelines where necessary. They say that we spend most of our waking hours at work and therefore one cannot afford to spend that time unhappy and in conflict with individuals or the employer.
I discovered, however, that the conditions in all workplaces are comparable. It is always one thing or another and enterprises go through change where they experience a shortage of resources, a rise in prices, dwindling revenues, budget cuts and internal friction. I tried calling an associate at another enterprise several times and thought the line was constantly engaged only to establish that the phones were not paid hence the tone. I text her instead and she went on to inform me about the woes in the firm and how the problems were affecting every other thing including people being civil with one another.
While having all of this in prayer, the church came to the surface and I saw how people were coming in and going out with excitement and then having long periods of absence and sometimes permanent departure. People in the churches, temples and other centres of worship and spiritual learning experience periods of struggle too. They wrestle with their inner selves and can’t find peace. They find themselves not at a place they wish to be spiritually and in their personal lives. They suffer from discouragement at times and battle to renew their minds and remain constantly positive with faith that someday things would improve. They look at others and things seem to be going well for them and yet in their own personal lives things seem to go wrong. Their joy is short-lived as they go back to living their normal lives of hardships and not getting to a place where they are satisfied with their lives completely. Some can’t make ends meet and live a life of bitterness though they are committed churchgoers.
I prayed for myself as well, for renewed strength, focus and wisdom to handle things better. Our lives always revolve around paying the bills, buying bread and milk, taking care of the kids, making sure they do their homework, cleaning the house and ensuring that the maid follows instructions and come to work on time and ensuring that the clothes were ironed properly. We hardly have time for ourselves or each other for married couples sometimes. The emphasis is always elsewhere to safeguard that all the chores are completed. We therefore, feel depleted most of the time. I prayed over the spirit of laziness too that was creeping over me as well as I noticed how I watched television more than reading spiritual books like before. I was demotivated.
While deep in prayer I had a vision and saw myself at the cross-roads and didn’t know the right direction to take; whether east, north, south or west. The wasteland was on all sides and all roads were made of gravel and it seemed wise to move north, i.e. forward from where I sensed I came from. I took that as an answer to my prayer that mine was just to keep on moving despite everything that was happening in society and all around me. I was carrying a heavy load on my shoulders that wasn’t my own instead of simply handing it over to God and meditating on His Word whilst He sought every aspect of society. I had to be like Joshua that even if we are in the same boat, having all kinds of challenges all around us, we need to meditate on the things of God and not worldly concerns.
When I ended my prayer I was rejuvenated and full of energy as I rushed to the bathroom to bathe my children and prepare them for school, fix breakfast and check if they had their school reports as it was the first day of school after the Easter holidays. It was a hectic morning and the helper did come late but I was at peace. I asked her to improve and she nodded with a smile on her face. I couldn’t say more as she accepted wrongdoing without resistance and so we left first to drop off the kids at school and then went to work.
As I entered my workplace, I followed the routine security check, presented my access card and unzipped my handbag for the security officer to take a quick peek and walked joyfully to the elevator. When the lift was about to close a colleague jumped in with triumph herself and began talking to me about God. It was surprising that she related how happy she has been lately and thanked God for it. Problems in her life and job had miraculously disappeared and she said she was growing spiritually and was more active in the church. God had poured joy in her heart amidst the problems she had in the past, she said. I believed that the meeting was divinely orchestrated for God to further communicate with me through another that I need not stress about what was occurring all around me. This world and everyone in it belongs to Him and it was not my responsibility to carry the burden of society on my shoulders including my own issues, Jesus did that already on the cross. He suffered and died for the salvation of all.
We are encouraged by Apostle Paul in 1Thessalonians 5: 17-18 to pray without ceasing and in everything to give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. We further learn in 1 John 5:14 that we should “approach God with confidence knowing that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we ask of Him”. Prayer should therefore not be a strenuous act but a joyful act knowing that God already knows what we are going to say and what concerns us concerns Him also and what is pertinent to us is important to Him. We are not called to worry but to pray.
Finally, James says “is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise (James 5:13). There’s nothing that prayer cannot achieve and therefore the meditation of our hearts should be in God’s promises and less on the problems.
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. &
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Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
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