We were created for a purpose. That purpose has been defined clearly in Christianity as knowing, loving, and serving God. And in the service is work. Without work, we lack a sense of usefulness, value, or meaning to our lives. God gave work as a gift to the human race in the Garden of Eden In Genesis 2:15, Scripture says that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” NIV
Work did not become a dreaded task until after the fall of man when sin affected the whole world. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of 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,…” Genesis 3:17b-19a NIV
Yet we still need purpose, and work fulfills that inborn need to a certain extent as evidenced by Ecclesiastes 2:10b: “My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” NIV
However, the writer goes on to say, that even this is meaningless. I believe he meant in the grand scheme of things, which we would call eternity. There is also the possibility that the writer had a morose outlook on life.
Whatever the cause of his dispute, there are two points I would like to make:
1) We all need to have a purpose–a goal in life, a plan to work toward, a sense of contributing to society. That purpose covers a wide range of jobs, tasks, calls, ministries, or avocations. A financier, an educator, a janitor, a businessman, a secretary, a writer, a stay at home Mom, an artist, an architect, an engineer, a computer technician, a garbage collector, a pastor, a social worker, an accountant, a sports broadcaster, a merciful soul who cares for the poor, a fundraiser, a landscaper, a housekeeper, a painter, a restaurateur, a hotel manager, and the list goes on.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
|Grand Central Station, NYC 2003|
When I began my recent position as a special education teaching assistant, I could feel the change in m spirit. There was joy and a significance to my life. My life took on a sense of purpose at a deeper level. That does not mean that my life did not have purpose as a wife or a mother, but my young men are old enough and independent enough to care for themselves. Hubby and I are the fall-back support system at this stage in their lives.
2) The work we do must be meaningful to us to bring us joy. Otherwise, it becomes the dreaded task we struggle through to pay the bills, raise a family, and maybe go on vacation.
According to an excerpt from Anita Renfroe’s book “A Grand New Day“,
“Whether you have a job and wish you didn’t, or don’t have one and wish you did, or if you wish you had different people to work with or report to, the dailyness of your workplace can become a mental drag if you don’t choose to see it as a place of purpose and mission.”
The Lord is at work in our present circumstances to give us purpose, hope and a future. We need to seek Him to discover what those plans are for our lives.
I have watched discouragement stranglehold my sons when they do not have a job outside of the home. While their reasons for working at this point in their lives has not registered with them as God’s ultimate plan for their lives, it still is part of God’s purpose and plan for them now. And may I add that doing chores around the house also fulfills God’s plan for them (it’s the mother in me coming out). I may have a hard time convincing them that if they see their work as meaningful and purposeful that it will bring them joy, but it would not take much to get their agreement on the fact that work has added a sense of value to their lives.
We were created for a purpose–part of that purpose is to serve the Lord. At the same time, the Lord gave us work to do so that we may contribute to His Kingdom and that we may have joy in fulfillment.
It can best be summed up in this Scripture:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23&24 NIV
Have you found purpose in life?
From My Heart to Yours,