“Now he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.’” (Genesis 5.29)
Generally speaking, most folks hate their jobs. Perhaps “hate” is too strong, but they certainly do not sense the fulfillment of all sweetness and light at them. No one wants to be overworked, distraught, stressed-out, and thinly stretched by a job, but it just seems inevitable.
It is heart-wrenching to see congregants weary from their work. I had a real job or two before becoming a pastor. I know what it’s like hating going to sleep because the next waking moment meant dreadfully preparing for a sad commute. I know how trapped you feel when you can neither afford another day at that God-awful place nor afford not to be there. And I know that it is just not as simple as saying, “Cheer up and have a great day.” There is something much more fundamental going on than occupational therapy can manage. Only the gospel can help.
Since our exile from Eden all of humanity as been plagued with job stress. Since God’s pronouncement in Genesis 3.17 the ground (or machine, press, pump, tool, client, etc.) no longer cooperates so easily with its masters. Bread and bacon would be hard to come by. Work would become much more difficult. So profound was this curse that by Genesis 5 people were longing for relief from their work. Noah’s father, Lamech, announced proudly that finally his son would be “the One.” Little did he know that Noah would indeed relieve them of their work, but not how they had envisioned! Umbrella-clad martinis gave way to global deluge.
The “rat race” is hardly a new concept. It is part and parcel the outworking of our sin. Now we find ourselves working at least eight hours a day, five or six days a week for the majority of our lives. We work today to keep working tomorrow. Eventually, the tomorrows add up until the tunnel’s light is no longer at the end, but behind us. We labor hours on end for minutes to spend pennies.
At some level, “cursed” is etched on every job description. And rest from our work and toil of our hands comes only as the curse is lifted (or we die, as Noah proved to his father). Despite common conjecture, no computer technology will ever ultimately relieve us from our toil. God will not be outdone by some job or mainframe to relieve His people. He will relieve them in Christ alone. He is The One to relieve us from our work and toil as He is The One who removed (and is removing) the curse “far as the curse is found.”
In Christ, what are otherwise dead-end jobs become seedbeds of gospel fruit. Christ redeems the thorns and thistles such that they serve His purposes of grace. Jesus makes the worst jobs kindling for the fires of worship. So, as you clock in this morning you may not hear angels singing, but you must believe Jesus is redeeming. And while your boss counts your widgets to prove you competent you will rejoice that heaven has no GNP.
“On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse.” (Revelation 22.2-3a)