The reality of work
Hard work is something that we can take pride in. Something that we can take into our jobs, our schooling, or our ministries. Although this has always been something to be admired in a person, we all know that it doesn’t satisfy us. It doesn’t matter if we work so hard to get that promotion, graduate at the top of the class, or have a “successful” ministry, we can often find ourselves unhappy and wanting more. An even more frightening reality is that we will put in all of this hard work and eventually leave it to someone else. That’s the reality of things.
I’ve been reading through the book of Ecclesiastes which is King Solomon’s (The Preacher) writings about how all of life, without God, is vanity and meaningless. In chapter 2, he writes about the vanity of his labors:
“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 2:18-23
Eventually, all the hard work that we have put into something will be left to someone else. We may get fired,laid off, replaced by someone that is better than us, or we may get to the end of our days and our work will remain left here on the earth as we depart from it. Even as Solomon said, this may be the thing that is keeping us up at night. So what do we do about this?
Enjoy your work to the glory of God
Although this reality seems cold and harsh, there is a remedy to it. Our work was never meant to fulfill us. Yes, it does give us some sort of purpose because we get to see the accomplishments of our hard work but it will never truly satisfy our souls. Work is a gift from God to be enjoyed but God is the Giver of this gift, and only He can truly satisfy our souls.
Work is a gift from God to be enjoyed but God is the Giver of this gift, and only He can truly satisfy our souls.
This is what Solomon has to say about this dilemma:
“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? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24-26
He tells us to eat, drink, and find enjoyment in our work but this is impossible apart from God. God gave us this need and desire to work but it is to be enjoyed, not something to be worshipped. We work to the glory of God, not to the glory of ourselves. This is how we can truly enjoy our work.
(Blog originally posted on http://www.realitystockton.com)