“Arbeit macht frei.” Or put in English: “Work will set you free.”
You know, I haven’t appreciated the validity and value of these words until now. When things get a little unpleasant or a little tough, we cope with it by finding something with which to escape, usually something external. This type of coping is the wrong path.
To demonstrate, think of one thing you really want in your life. Think about your dreams. For argument’s sake, you want a late-model red dodge viper convertible. You know how good it would feel to drive down the road showing off a sexy new sports car to your neighbors and elicit envy from them. Shortly after these thoughts, you are faced with the stark and obvious truth: you are presently not living your dream. A vacuum has been created in your mind. How do too many of us deal with such emptiness? Do we pursue what we want with all our vigor and strength? Ashamedly, no. Often, we seek escape to compensate for the ever-daunting reality that is slowly setting in: we may never live our dreams, so why even bother trying to achieve our dreams? Too many of us have given up inside. We compensate by watching TV, watching movies, watching porn, playing video games, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking or eating too much. However, as any drug addict or gluttonous person knows, these things do not provide true escape. True escape can only be found with the attainment of one’s dreams. True escape is innate in the knowledge that with every passing hour that we work, we are one step closer to living our dream.
What if it takes me years of work in order to fulfill my dreams, you ask? What will placate me while I toil, you ask? Unlike the false escapes mentioned earlier which ultimately bring us shame and guilt, with every hour of hard work comes pride, meaning and self-worth. With every hour of work comes a little bit of freedom. Remember Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Often, we can be so unhappy, but what we don’t recognize is that what we seek the most is right in front of our noses. We simply have to choose to get it.