So when we have thought about how good work is, perhaps it is surprising how much of the time our work is a pain in the neck. Even if things are generally going well, much of it is frustrating.
The computer crashes and you’ve lost your last hour’s work. You work for a week on a project and then the boss decides that she will use somebody else’s idea. You decorate your living room, only to have your 4 year old add their uninvited finishing touches. You spend a week on an essay, and the person who set it doesn’t even read it properly. You spend an afternoon tidying your desk, but by the same time next week it is in the same mess it was before. You spend months training somebody up to do a particular job, and when they are about ready to do it they go and get a job with a rival firm. All these things we may have enjoyed at the time. Yet they seem to have had no long-term benefits.
Work is supposed to be worship. It is supposed to reflect God’s rule in the world by bringing order out of chaos. Why does the order seem so quickly to degenerate to chaos again?
We have seen that this wasn’t the case with work originally. It seems that Adam and Eve were to cultivate the land. They and their offspring were to fill the world and subdue it. In time the whole world would have been a beautiful garden that proclaimed the rule of the Lord.
But with the rebellion of Adam and Eve against the rule of God came the frustration of the work that was supposed to proclaim the Lord’s Rule.
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:16-19)
In the next few posts we'll look at some of the implications of the fall and the curse upon how we should view work.