Then, he created Adam and Eve to be workers in His garden. They were to take delight in tending to the plants and caring for the animals. Can you think of a time in which a task you were doing brought you pure joy? I think of mission trips and service projects in which carrying buckets of stones up a hill or boxing cans of food was an act of joy. Why? Because it was work offered in service to my Master, done in the fellowship of other believers. I imagine that this is what everyday in the Garden of Eden was like. Watering plants, naming animals, sowing soil in utter bliss and fellowship with creation and the Creator. But this was not to be.
After Adam and Eve sinned, the Lord told them, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from 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.” This is the curse. We are reminded of it everyday when we slam our snooze buttons, begging the clock for just a few minutes of sleep before the workday starts. We are reminded of it everyday as we sit at our desks counting down the minutes until 5 o'clock. We are reminded of it when we open our bank accounts in frustration, realizing we "do too much and don't get paid enough". This is life, this is work, this is the curse.
Entering into the work force post-college has been a huge learning experience for me. I really struggled through a discouraging season of college and was excited to get a "real job" in the "real world." It's been rewarding to pay our bills, earn health insurance, and have a job that is mine, but it has also been hard. I didn't know just how hard or how fast I would feel the curse of the thorns and thistles. It has been a balancing act of being thankful for the fact that I have a job and realizing that it's not what I had expected or hoped for. It is okay to admit that your job is hard, that it is not life-giving, that it doesn't make you excited or have anything to do with the passions God has given you.
The curse is real, but so is grace. Because of grace, the Lord does a mighty work despite an apathetic attitude, despite a less-than-ideal job situation, despite difficult co-workers. As our pastor said, 'What God is doing IN me is more important that what God is doing THROUGH me." I don't often feel that my job is very worthwhile, and I rarely feel like I make a positive impact on people at my work. But for now, I rest in the fact that for this season, the Lord is doing a makeover on my heart. He's using the thorns and thistles from the curse to poke and prod at my pride, my trust, my identity until I'm pulled to my knees in surrender.
Be encouraged, brothers and sisters. The Lord has called us to be laborers of righteousness, may we go forth and bear fruit in our individual workplaces of thorns and thistles.