An old Yiddish folk story tells of a well-to-do gentleman who visited a wise rabbi to ask a question.
He said: “I think I grasp the sense and meaning of these writings except for one thing. I cannot understand how we can be expected to give God thanks for our troubles.”
The rabbi knew instantly that he could not explain this with mere words. He said to the gentleman: “If you want to understand this, you will have to visit Isaac the water-carrier.”
The gentleman was mystified by this, but knowing the rabbi to be wise, crossed to a poor section of the settlement and came upon Isaac the water-carrier, an old man who had been engaged in lowly, backbreaking labor for some fifty years.
The gentleman explained the reason for his visit. Isaac paused from his labors. Finally, after several minutes of silence, looking baffled, he spoke: “I know that the rabbi is the wisest of men. But I cannot understand why he would send you to me with that question. I can’t answer it because I’ve had nothing but wonderful things happen to me. I thank God every morning and night for all his many blessings on me and my family.”
It is true, is it not? The pure in heart see God. The humble in spirit know Christ’s joy and enter into God’s glory. “For I consider,” writes St. Paul, “that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
This Labor Day weekend we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is still working. He will never take a vacation as long as there are people who need him.
He is looking for people who are hurting, people who are lonely, people who are bound by addictions of every kind. And he is telling them, “Come to me. I can help you. I can help you today.”