The first passage for consideration is Ecclesiastes 3:13 (NRSV) that says, "moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil." According to this passage toil shouldn't be hard, shouldn't be bad but we should take pleasure in it. That is a very foreign concept to many, most everyone at times. When I'm bogged down with college stress (like now, for example), it is hard to find the joy in work. But God promises it's there and if you look for it, you'll find it. I'm starting to, try it yourself!
Next I'd like to examine Proverbs 14:23 (NRSV) that says, "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." What this says to me is that if you toil, or work hard, there is profit. If you just talk a big game but don't work for what you want or need, then that leads to poverty. Basically help yourself and you will be rewarded. In today's society of how the Government should give people everything, the idea of working for what you have can be a bit out of date. If you work hard you appreciate what you have more. It could also be stretched a bit to say that just talking about how hard something is rather than just doing it isn't productive. As Nike says, "Just do it!"
I was just about to end my study, but then I found one more passage that really hit me, it was Proverbs 18:9. I normally translate from the NRSV because of its ecumenical focus, but in this instance I'm going to use the ESV as I think it is a stronger translation in this case: "Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys." Wow. That stopped me in my tracks. If you are slack you're a brother (or sister) to the destroyer, another possible name for the Devil? (For reference, it is believed by some that the the Devil is called "destroyer" in Revelation 9:11 -- the Hebrew "Abaddon" means "destruction" and the Greek "Apollyon" means "destroyer." Also reference Job 28:22 where Abaddon [destruction] is mentioned as a person. There is some debate about this, however.)
Could that be true? If you are lazy, slacking, you are not following what God wants but you're falling to Satan? When you don't follow God you are, to use this passage's wording, "a brother to the destroyer," which I take to potentially mean the Devil. Not giving something your all is falling to temptation by the Devil to be lazy. That hit me hard but it makes sense when you think about it. Out of all the passages that one speaks the most to me and I think should be engraved on everyone's work space. If you want motivation to keep working, that's it!
I hope that this little devotion will be of some help to people as they work hard in school or college or at their jobs. Life can be hard sometimes, but we have a God that loves us and will not give us more than we can handle. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV). The first sentence says that hardship or tough times are common to everyone, you are not alone. Think of all the hardships Jesus himself faced on earth! But God doesn't push you beyond your limits, but he provides an answer whether that be the right answer to the problem or the drive to keep going, you can endure it.
"Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ," Colossians 3:23-24 (NRSV). God bless!