Last week was a rough work week. First, it was exhausting due to its long hours. Second, my health gave me some trouble, and third, I dropped one of the many balls I have been juggling on a project, and now I am cleaning up the pieces. None of these issues were that significant in and of themselves, but they piled up and weighed me down.
My emotional response is what I found to be the most interesting. I found myself under it all instead of on top of it. Once defeat set in, even the minor issues felt daunting. I expected my work to bring me fulfillment, but it offered me frustration.
What I was experiencing was the effect of the curse; the thorns and thistles that accompany every job and make the sweat pour from our brows (Genesis 3:17-19). It was nothing out of the ordinary in a fallen world, but I was reminded that life is not the way it should be, and the fruit of our labor is rarely produced with ease.
It is not only the world that is not as it should be; we, too, are fallen. It was not the curse alone I was dealing with last week. It was my sinful nature as well. Sin is at play, whether we grow too confident or defeated at work. The biggest thing our sin does is turn our eyes away from God and put them on the things of the world. Our sinful natures not only desire forbidden things but also try to pervert what is good. Work is one of those good things.
If work always went perfectly, it would provide so much happiness that our sinful natures would make it into an idol. Even in this fallen world where the curse affects our labor, people still become workaholics. Imagine how bad that would be if there were no curse.
I was reminded of Romans eight, where Paul tells us that God subjected the world to futility in hope (Romans 8:20). That is a verse about the curse. God subjected the world to futility, but he did it for a reason, and that reason is good. When you realize that the sweat on your brow is flowing, and the thorns and thistles keep you from experiencing the satisfaction you desire in your work, recognize the futility you are experiencing is for your benefit. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, he is saying, work is good, but do not make it your god. It cannot fulfill your most significant needs.
In the frustrations of work, God is reminding us to look to him. He is saying, look to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are fleeting, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). He is where we will find the fulfillment and glory we seek, and eventually, Jesus will return for his children. At that moment, he will make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.