One definition of the word obscurity means “the condition of being unknown.” Some associate obscurity with unimportance and insignificance. In this day dominated by social media, we can conclude we live in obscurity compared to the social media darlings. Our number of followers or friends pales in comparison to celebrities or famous people. This can even happen in Christian circles.
Celebrity pastors, well-known churches, popular bloggers and innovative ministries can make anyone look small, insignificant and obscure. We can certainly learn from them. Yet, we can also sink into a “why bother” attitude if we conclude that only fame matters.
Psalm 134 presents a challenge and comfort for those of us who are not celebrities.
“Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is Maker of heaven and earth.”
This Psalm addresses priests and singers who worked the night shift. They may have had to keep the fires burning on torches or altars. They sang and praised the Lord through the night. They also prayed. Few noticed their ministry. Yet in verse 3, we see the Psalmist call on the Lord to bless those who labor faithfully in obscurity. God valued their faithful service as He would value the faithful service of the High Priest who lived with much fame and notoriety.
This reminds us that the Lord sees and values your faithfulness in obscurity. No one may see your care for a sick child at night or your careful labor on some project at work. No one may acknowledge your anonymous act of kindness for a neighbor or your food preparation for a needy family. You may not win the employee of the month award or have your face on top sellers list in the city. Yet you faithfully serve, show up, work with integrity and keep at it.
God sees it all. It gives Him joy and pleasure to see one of His own do whatever they do with all their heart as working for Him. We need to change our focus away from whether or not people notice what we’re doing. Instead we need to focus on doing everything to His glory – washing dishes; changing diapers; cleaning up the house or one’s office; writing that email; sitting down with that child; praying. . . and suddenly it all matters and life is full of opportunities and joy because of the loving attention of the Maker of heaven and earth.
“Lord God, sometimes people (including our own family members) hardly notice what we do. Sometimes that is discouraging. Yet it can also expose our excessive attention to what others think of us. Help us discover the freedom of doing whatever you call us to do for your glory and pleasure. If other people are blessed or notice, that’s a bonus. But help us to find our deepest satisfaction in living faithfully to honor you like those priests who worked the night shift. Thank you Lord.”