God is the One Who provides us with food. Does that mean we must stop working?
In the last post we spoke about the duty of human beings towards God, namely worshipping Him and avoiding sin. In this post we speak about the duty of God in feeding humans, and how essential it is for humans to realize that it’s God and not them feeding themselves (of course, “duty of God” does not in any way indicate some form of compulsion over God but simply means that He chose that role). Such a realization allows one to avoid much of the worry and concern experienced in earning a living and encourages us to truly focus our attention on worship.
Ustadh Bediuzzaman gives the following analogy about putting one’s trust in God (Twenty-third Word, First Chapter, Third Point):
Two men carrying loads on their backs embark on a ship for a journey. Upon entering the ship, one of them places his load on the ship, rests his back, and enjoys the trip. The other refuses to let go of his loads, saying he must carry it on his back to ensure his belongings are safe. They tell him he is needlessly burdening himself as the ship carries the loads anyway. Also, his foolishness is an insult to the ship’s owner, since he looks down upon the ship’s capability.
In the case of food and subsistence, the ship corresponds to life and the loads correspond to the worry and concern over finding the necessary food and providing for oneself. As long as the men are traveling in the ship, the loads will be safe. Similarly, God has placed each of us in this ship of life for a determined period of time; and as long as we are within that time period, we will have the necessary food for survival.
Indeed if God has decided that one will live for 70 years in this world, it is logically implied that one will have food for 70 years! For how else would one survive?
That being said, one should not be deluded into thinking that working for a livelihood is unnecessary. Even though it is God Who sustains us and we as humans must trust Him and let go of our worries, God still requires us to perform certain tasks for a living. That is, it is not the work that we should let go of but the worry associated with it. If we do whatever is necessary for a living, we should trust Him with the rest. Now a question may arise as to why we need to work for a living if God has taken upon the role to feed us. Why doesn’t God lift the burden of work so that we can completely focus our attention on worship, if worship is the reason we were sent here?
Of course, it is never possible to fully comprehend the wisdom of God. However, some reasons are obvious to us once we ponder about it. Working for a living is directly connected with worship. If done correctly, it will become a path taking us to our Creator.
Getting to know God through His names and attributes is a major part of worship. How else can we love and willingly obey our Creator without knowing who He is? If God were to directly give our food without any effort from our end, we would not be able to understand the great value of these foods. In turn we would not be able to appreciate the kindness, mercy and love of God by providing them to us. In short, the more difficult it is to get to these favors, the more we understand the attributes of our Creator. Earning a livelihood transforms into an act of worship with the right intention.
Fifth Word (Part 2)