And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful! ~ Psalm 90:17 (NLT)
"Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again." ~ Luke 5:5 (NLT)
In the first part of the psalm the writer has rehearsed the fragility and brevity of life. In light of such he begs God in verse 17 to grant his people success in life. In the preceding verses he had already defined success as experiencing the love of God daily -- throughout life. And then he adds that success is a matter of seeing God at work (..."let us, your servants, see you work again." ~ vs 16).
When he begs for success he is begging to see God at work. The psalmist wants to know that his own endurance and labor are not in vain. He wants to see that it is all worth it!
The desire for success is a common aspiration. We want to see that what we do with our lives has eternal significance. I have a good friend who was for 10 years a part of our prayer group. And he would often lead us to pray for missionaries saying, "Might they see some fruit of their labor."
Obviously, most of us, whether we're missionaries in Africa or missionaries in the post office, never see the totality of the "fruit of our labor" -- some don't see much fruit or success at all -- which is frustrating. But then there are those moments when nothing seems to be going as planned -- and the fish appear to sleeping at the bottom of another part of the lake -- moments when silly Jesus tells us to drop the nets into the water just to see what happens. And then much to our surprise we end up like Simon in the gospel story, who in spite of his fruitless endeavors all night pulls up a full net in the morning.
God, we know that you are merciful. We're not claiming that we deserve it but we do need it. Let us see at least enough success to keep us trusting and moving ahead. This is all we ask. Show us again that it's not all in vain. We're fragile people with short lives. We need some reassurance and encouragement -- again. Amen.