Recently, there was a strike of municipal workers in Jerusalem, including pre-school teachers, workers at various municipal offices and garbage collectors.
The strike only lasted three days and it ended with none of the parties getting what they wanted. But what it meant for me and most of the other residents of Israel’s capital city was, in a word, suffering.
We suffered because our children weren’t able to go to their pre-schools, causing massive disruption and inconvenience for many parents and disappointments for their children.
Other disruptions to people’s schedules happened when appointments with city offices, which are routinely scheduled a month or more in advance, were cancelled, ensuring that the negative results of this strike will reverberate far into the future.
But most of all, we suffered because the garbage piled up.
Dumpsters which are usually emptied several times a week quickly overflowed and the garbage started piling up next to them. The smell was bad, although at least it was happening in the winter months, when the low temperatures meant that the stench from rotting garbage wouldn’t be so bad. Past strikes which occurred in the summer months made the stench much worse.
Happily, Tuesday evening brought an intervention by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and crews immediately set to work picking up the accumulated garbage, most of which was gone by Thursday afternoon. By Friday evening the stench was also mostly gone and we could enjoy Shabbat without holding our noses while we rested.
All this reminded me of 1 Timothy 2: 1-4:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Obviously, this recent strike compels those of us blessed to live in Jerusalem to pray for our political leaders to have more wisdom the next time there’s a crisis than they displayed in this situation.
But this also reminded me of the importance of giving thanks to God for people who do the ordinary, day to day tasks which allow me and my family to “lead a tranquil and quiet life” most definitely including the garbage collectors. People who do this unpleasant job day in day out don’t get much glory and in many places they’re not paid particularly well. But they do it, and by doing it, they make my life infinitely more pleasant than it otherwise might be.
The stench that permeated the air for a few days a couple of weeks ago here in Jerusalem could be a permanent part of life if it wasn’t for them, as could the diseases that are common in many other cities around the world where garbage collection is less regular (or perhaps even non-existent.)
So, by all means, pray for the government where you live, but remember to also pray for the common workers, the teachers and police officers and street sweepers and garbage collectors. They’re a blessing from our Heavenly Father, and we should never neglect to give Him the gratitude He’s due for such things.