September 30, 2014.
As we walk throughout our daily lives, perhaps one constant that most of us experience is work. Whether this be at a job, in the house, at school, preparing for sporting events- at some point in time we all will experience work, and probably a lot of it. Hard work can beat you down and it can be very easy to complain (at least a little) about all the things you have to do. I know I’ve been there (well, I might still be there). Our lives get very busy and our time is filled with all the things we have to do, and we get little time to sit back and relax. Sound familiar?
Whereas I do think relaxation time is needed, I don’t think the scenario described above is a bad thing. Sure, we can push ourselves too hard, but as a general rule, work is good. Staying busy is good. This is something that I have learned over the past years. I like being busy. When I’m not busy, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. So long as I am busy, I am not bored. And I also think, if you really think about it, you like work too (unless you absolutely hate your job… if so, I hope you can find a better one). Deep down, I think we all like to work. Our desire to work is just often masked because we are not engaged in the type of work we like to do. I think this desire was put into us from the beginning.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
In Genesis 2, a retelling of the story of the creation of man is unfolding. The earth had been newly formed with all its intricacies and beauty, and God decided it was time for man to enter the scene. Breathing the breath of life into him, He then took man and placed him in the garden of eden for what purpose? To work it and keep it. You see, I think we often mistake the garden of eden as this place of paradise and luxury (though I’m sure it was) where Adam and Eve just chilled with God all day, not having a care in the world. The garden indeed must have been beautiful, and the world was perfect since sin and death had not entered yet, but man still had a purpose to work. Work did not come after the fall (though it did get much harder), but was with us from the beginning, as I think it will continue to be with us in the resurrection.
Is this a bad thing? Was man made to work out of punishment? I don’t think so. I think work was given to us as a blessing. Can you imagine if your whole life was a vacation? All you had to do was sit around at the beach and relax. Sure, this would be nice for a week or two, but it would get old fast. We would probably find things to do that ultimately resemble work! Why? Because we need purpose in life, and I think this is a blessing from God. Imagine spending all eternity having nothing to do… does that actually sound appealing to you? This is what it would have been like for Adam and Eve (before the fall) if God had not given them a job to do. But they were given work to do so as to utilize the potential they were given by God.
The story doesn’t stop there, though it does get less joyful. When Adam and Eve were removed from the garden, the work of the ground was made very laborious. This indeed was a punishment for man (ref. Gen. 3:17), but I still think there is some blessing in it. I believe work is still good for the soul, though the pain though which it would not come would be a constant reminder of the fall. The wise man Solomon had this to say about work:
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”
This is one of the few encouraging (unless you’re like me and find a lot of the book of Ecclesiastes encouraging… and awesome!) words that the wise man has to give to his audience. Eat, drink and enjoy your work. Do we take this to heart? Do we really enjoy our work? I think this should indeed be a priority, as did Solomon. You see, Solomon was very, very rich. Yet he could not find satisfaction. He tried everything. He tried relaxation, parties, entertainment, sex, wisdom… he tried everything and anything that he had available to him. Nothing satisfied in the end (ultimately because he was seeking satisfaction from physical pleasures instead of from the Almighty, at least for his tests). He simply had these words, that we should eat, drink and enjoy our labor, for it was from the hand of God. He would go on to say that the sleep of the laborer is sweet while the stomach of the rich man would not allow him to sleep (rev. Ecc. 5:12). These are wise words, as Solomon’s wisdom came from God.
So, do you enjoy work? Perhaps this is a difficult question indeed, but I want to encourage you to find some pleasure in the work of your hands. This is where satisfaction in this life will come from (though our ultimate satisfaction should come from seeking and being in a relationship with God). There is nothing wrong with work. In fact, I don’t our work will stop once we depart from this life. In a passage where Isaiah seems to be prophesying about the next life, he paints this glorious picture of a new heaven and a new earth:
“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.”
(Isaiah 65:17, 21-23)
I do love prophecy, but I do not claim to be an expert on its interpretation. This sounds like an end of time prophecy to me, though I could see how some would argue for it being a prophecy about the time of the Messiah. Regardless, it is a prophecy about the Lord’s coming salvation, and work is included in this salvation. I think that’s beautiful in its own way. I can imagine a new earth, free from sin and death, were we are in the presence of the Lord eternally, having unlimited resources to carry out our passions and talents. I can imagine building and creating new things, driven by curiosity and under the hand of the Almighty. We will have audience with the master builder Himself. I don’t know about you, but this picture of creativity is wonderful to me. Perhaps this is not how we will spend eternity, but I think it certainly might be. What a wonderful place that will be.
So, I’ll ask again: do you like to work? I hope so. And if you don’t find enjoyment in your work now, I hope you will be able to in the near future. We as human beings were made with work placed deep in our souls. I pray that we all are able to reach the potential that God put inside of each one of us. We know that our labor for the Lord will not be in vain.
Suggested Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 5, Isaiah 65, Colossians 3, II Thessalonians 3.
The Lord bless you in your work.