Wherever we live, our lives are punctuated by rhythms of work, and of rest. But, even if our bodies are resting, our souls may still be burdened by many worries.
“回来咯” Mr Ma calls out, “I’m back.” Only silence answers.
The room is strewn with dishes and toys. An abandoned bowl of rice balances precariously on the edge of the table. “娘？” He calls for his wife, but there is still no answer.
He finds her propped up in bed, a weary look on her face. “What’s up?” he asks, as gently as he has skill to manage.
“After they left, I just had to rest,” she replies. Mr Ma only grunts in response. Anything he says is likely to only result in anger, or more despair in his wife. She often gets like this after family gatherings.
Today was the Eid festival, the end of the fasting month. The whole family ate together to celebrate. It’s a day of honor and family and sacred responsibility. It is finished, and now is the time to rest. But rest doesn’t always come easily.
“儿子呢？What about our son?” Mrs Ma asks the question her husband had been hoping to avoid. “我也不知道,” he mumbles, “I don’t know.” This son, to whom they have given the best education and the best opportunities, has recently started yet another business scheme. It hasn’t been successful, and their son has taken to spending long hours out with his friends. Mr Ma hears frequent reports from the neighbors about his son’s behavior. He tries not to listen to them.
The weariness on his wife’s face intensifies. She thrives on attention from her son, and stories of his success. But those stories have been rare recently. “At least our family was together today,” says Mr Ma, trying to inject some brightness into the evening. “A special day. Now we can get a good rest.” As if saying it can make it true.
Mrs Ma looks at him blankly. She has never been the kind of person to force a smile to make him feel better. She rarely lays aside the worries that burden her heart.
“I’ll tidy up then,” Mr Ma says, walking back to the lounge. His wife doesn’t answer.
Mr Ma clears the dishes and toys silently. He can’t heal his wife’s burdens, or change his son’s behavior. But tonight, he won’t worry about that. With a tiny smile, he looks forward to two simple joys: a quiet evening and a little extra sleep.
Will you pray with us for people in need of rest?
Mr Ma and his family are from the Hui minority group, who speak Mandarin Chinese but are traditionally Muslim. There are over 10 million Hui people in China. Pray for them to have the opportunity to hear Jesus’ teachings about rest.
Chinese people are usually very hardworking. Ask God to help Chinese Christians to be a good example by having good patterns of work and rest.
Many thousands of small businesses in China are struggling because of the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Pray for our Shepherd to give wisdom and hope to people who are losing their livelihoods and can’t see a way forward.
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