“Don’t you see how hard I’m working?”
“I feel like my work goes unappreciated.”
“It seems like no matter what I do, it’s never enough. There’s always one more thing.”
Have you ever felt like this as an employee, a parent, a spouse, or a church volunteer? I can relate, and so can Jesus’ friend Martha.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38–42
Anxious and Troubled
I’ve always felt like Martha gets a bad rap. After all, a group of important people shows up at her house, she’s trying to be a welcoming hostess, and her sister is no help at all. So Martha works and works until she snaps. “Don’t you see how hard I’m working?” she basically says to her Lord. And to be fair, Martha is not entirely wrong. She is doing good work in serving Jesus and His disciples, and at some point someone needs to feed these guests, right?
Jesus says Martha’s issue is not that she is busy serving others; her problem is that she is anxious and troubled. She is so focused on temporal things that she is forgetting about the eternal things. She is so focused on the demands of life that she is ignoring the way, the truth, and the life. She is distracted from the one thing she truly needs—her Savior, who is literally close enough to touch, close enough to hear, and close enough to take all her anxieties away with His tender words of lasting hope.
One More Thing vs. the One Thing
We, too, have days when we feel like we work and work and no one seems to notice. Our sweet young children are the greatest joy in our life, but they need so much love and care from us that we start to feel like we don’t have the capacity to keep up.
How long has it been since I changed the baby’s diaper? When is that next appointment? Do we have anything in the fridge for supper tonight? When did I last wash towels? I feel like my spouse and I don’t spend enough time together. What do they need for preschool tomorrow? What if they don’t sleep well again tonight? I feel like I forgot to do something at work, but I can’t remember now.
The worries stack up, the work stacks up, and try as we may we can never seem to find true rest. We keep doing what needs to be done, we internalize our anxieties, and then one day we snap—often at someone we love dearly.
On days when it feels like there is always “one more thing” on our plate, that is when we need “the One thing” the most. We need the Word that lasts forever. We need the food and drink that will never run dry in the Lord’s Supper. We need time to cast our anxieties on Jesus, knowing that He sees our work and desires to give us His peace, strength, and rest.
Pause for Prayer
If you feel like Martha (and me) some days, God calls us to sit quietly at His feet, confess our sins, and receive once again His sweet Gospel promises. This may not look like an hour-long Bible study every day in this season of your life. But it can look like pausing for prayer throughout your day—and modeling that for your children in your conversations with them.
Try these simple ideas this month to help you and your family focus on Jesus in those moments when you are tempted to keep all the burdens of daily family life on yourself instead of casting them on Him:
- When you or your child are starting to melt down, say, “Let’s say a quick prayer. Dear Lord, we feel frustrated. But we know You are with us. Take this burden from us, and give us strength and patience. Amen.”
- When you snap at someone in your family, say, “I am sorry I got angry with you. That’s not how I want to talk to you. Do you forgive me? I love you and forgive you, too, just like God has forgiven us because of Jesus!”
- When you are being pulled in multiple directions, pray, “Lord, my mind is spinning. Slow me down. Remind me of Your love and grace for me in Jesus. Amen.”
This month, download the Everyday Faith Calendar to help your family focus on Jesus through short Bible readings and prayer prompts each day.