by Brian Goins
Quick – write down words that come to your mind when I say, “WORK or TOIL or JOB.”
Did any of the words look like “gift” or “present”?
For many of us, work is what we do so we can afford to escape from work. Outside of paying the bills, what is work good for?
That’s the same question the author of Ecclesiastes asked, “What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with (insert your busy job here). He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man” (Eccl. 3:9-13).
I’ve taken much pleasure in Chick-Fil-A’s sandwiches and a batch of John A’s Christmas Egg Nog. I love opening those presents. But “all my toil?” Even the word “toil,” sounds hard and unpleasant. When God created society, he could have set up a system where we get paid for eight hours of sleep instead of eight hours of work. That would create a whole new urgency for the Sunday afternoon slumber, “Honey, I really want to try and pay off that car soon. I’m going to take a nap.”
But God created us in his image. Throughout the Psalms, the authors encourage us to consider the “works” of His hand. We, created in the image of God, were created to create, to work, to toil. Manual labor wasn’t a consequence of the Fall, but a gift in the garden (Gen. 2:5).
True we still deal with the thorns. But underneath the thistles is pleasure you won’t find after riding a roller coaster or taking a trip to Disney or pushing back from a holiday feast. It’s the pleasure of a job well done.
God said, “It pleased the Lord to crush him” (Is. 53:10). Despite the thorns, God found pleasure in the Cross. The heavy toil of the cross wasn’t fun, but it was pleasant. There’s a certain satisfaction that sweeps over your heart whenever you say, “It is finished.” Whether laying a brick wall, corralling toddlers, writing devotionals, or shouldering a curse, our toil is a gift from God.
I’m glad Jesus found pleasure in his work. Do you?