psalm 137 harps on willows; for Christians who suffer job dissatifaction

By the rivers of Babylon — there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How could we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. Psalm 137:1-6

Of the 80% of Americans who hate their job, many are Christian men and women. Yes, it is true. You are not alone. Christians too suffer from job dissatisfaction, that is, hate their jobs. Typical Christian advice on this subject lacks empathy, and sadly, possesses a surplus of judgmentalism.

Psalm 137:1-6 describes the emotional struggle of longing for a place that brings joy and fulfilment. Harps hanging on willows represents something out of place, like anyone in an ongoing, life-draining, soul-crushing job situation. I am a Christian experiencing severe job dissatisfaction. No, let me be honest—I hate my job.

Have you ever noticed that most everyone who writes about Christians in the work place, faith and work, etc., do not actually have a job that they hate? Most of the time they have non-corporate, non-rigidly scheduled, creative and challenging jobs. It is impossible for these people to understand. It is easy for them to judge. They hand out cheap advice and cliché solutions. And condemn us for not being grateful, after all, “a lot of people do not have a job.” Who said we weren’t grateful? It is not that simple! No one can understand the toll taken on the mind, body, heart, and soul, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, unless they have experienced this situation firsthand.

Honestly, I am tired of hearing and/or reading things like:

  • “think positively”
  • “believe you are happy”
  • “choose to be happy”
  • “suck it up”
  • “you should be grateful”
  • “just try to endure it”
  • “[put your favorite here]”

etc., because I am tired of pretending it is okay. It is not okay!

Willow tree near the waterTo paraphrase Thomas Merton, a tree brings glory to God by being a tree, because by being a tree it is being obedient to what God made it to be. Therefore a tree is most like God when it is being what God made it to be (New Seeds of Contemplation). I know that God did not make me to be what my job title and/or description states. How could I be so miserable otherwise?

If you have read this far, you understand what I am saying perfectly.

Why does this matter to me? I am a Christian. I confess that I hate my job. However, Christian witness matters to me because it matters to the mission of Christ. The despair and distress, day in and day out, gets the best of me sometimes. I regret there have been times that my Christian witness has suffered. The American workplace is a huge mission field. Regardless of my feelings about the situation at hand, it is my deep desire to bring glory to Jesus Christ and to be a help, not a hindrance, to others knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9, NLT

Just as members of like-minded groups find love and acceptance through the groups’ fellow members, I too need the help and understanding of fellow Christians in this “hate my job” situation. I believe you do too. I believe other people do as well. We need a group of Christian men and women who are either experiencing, or have experienced, this dilemma. A community to offer support to one another, share coping strategies and skills, provide understanding, and most importantly to pray for one another.

Our Christian influence within the mission fields that we enter almost every day also need prayer and encouragement from one another.

If you are interested in being a part of this groundbreaking group, please contact Harps On Willows—either through the Harps on Willows website contact form, FB page, Twitter @harpsonwillows or e-mail at [email protected]. HOW will facilitate weekly chats through Twitter hashtag #harpsonwillows for encouragement, prayer requests, special work situation advice, special items of interest, and to praise God. A schedule will be posted soon.

Please sign up for the Harps on Willows newsletter, or like it on FaceBook, or follow on Twitter. Every once in a while HOW runs across something that helps through the struggle one more day. Maybe it will provide some comfort for you as well.

HOW earnestly hopes that having someone who understands your situation will help you and be beneficial to you. HOW is praying for you.

In Christ –

Harps On Willows


There is one sure way to escape your workplace prison: 

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! Acts 16:25-26, NLT