I don’t know why Labor Day was created, but my life also sometimes feels like labor–the continual, agonizing pains of childbirth:
- financial challenges
- marriage problems
- our grown kids’ struggles
- stress upon stress, until I feel like I’m going to break.
Maybe breaking is what God is after in me.
The breaking reminds me for some reason of the children’s nursery rhyme and lullaby, Rock-a-by, Baby:
Part of the lyrics say:
Rock-a-by, baby, on the tree top
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
And when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
Down will come baby, cradle and all.
What a strange nursery rhyme!
Why would a baby be on top of a tree?
Why does the cradle rock gently when the wind blows?
Why doesn’t it come crashing down right away?
There are various theories to explain the origins of this lullaby.
One suggests it narrates a mother rocking a baby to sleep like the baby is riding on the treetops during a breeze. Then when she lowers the baby to the crib, the song says, “Down will come baby.”
Another theory says it may have been written by an English immigrant observing native American women rocking their babies in birch-bark cradles, suspended from the branches of trees and allowing the wind to rock the baby to sleep. But the words appeared in print first in England, c. 1765.
A third theory is that the baby is the son of James VII and II, widely believed to be someone’s child smuggled into the birthing room to provide a Roman Catholic heir for James. The wind may be the Protestant “wind” or force blowing from the Netherlands, bringing his nephew and son-in-law William of Orange. He deposed King James II in the revolution. The cradle is the House of Stuart. Some nursery rhymes are political in origin.
At any rate, the wind blows…sometimes too hard, and then it all comes smashing down.
Only that instead of “laboring” and striving in our own strength, rest in God.
Lay your burdens and stress at His feet and let Him take care of it all…and cradle you.
I love what Holley Gerth wrote in her little devotional book, What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, pp. 26-27:
“When the day seems difficult, when you’re weary, when you feel like a failure…God is encouraging you. For so long I thought of him as standing by and shaking his head as he wondered, “Why can’t you get it all together?” But that’s not his heart toward us at all. To encourage literally means “to give courage,” and that’s what God wants to do for us on the hard days. He says to us, “I’m here. I will help you. I will give you strength to take one more step.” He looks at your life with infinite love and tenderness. And he knows how hard it is to be us sometimes. He lived in this world. He experienced pain. He died on a cross. Jesus understands how brutal this world can be...What if, on the days when it’s hard for you to get out of bed, you imagined him reaching out to lift you up instead of being disappointed in you? What if he’s cheering you as you take your first step into a day that’s not one you want to face? What if instead of saying, “Get it together,” he’s whispering, “Let’s do this together”? That changes everything. And it can change us.”