The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: pain

The Problem of Work After the Fall

*This is part two of the blog series: A Mini-Biblical-Theology of Work. Part 1 can be found here.

Have you ever attempted to use something for a task other than it was designed for and it turned out bad, frustrating, or even painful?

So… this one time I had friends over at my house once who were helping my brother and I pull weeds because as soon as that chore was done we could go play. Now I don’t know how it started, but in the midst of weed pulling someone got hit in the face with some dirt.

This led to an all out dirt war.

31c96-umbrellaAt one point, someone grabbed an umbrella. Maybe it was me or maybe it wasn’t…why assign blame? Anyway, that person brilliantly began using the umbrella as a shield against the onslaught of soil. The umbrella changed hands a few times and it ended up in the hands of one of my friends.

My younger brother charged him with a massive handful of dirt. So my friend naturally held up the umbrella to protect himself and one of the spokes caught my brother’s eyelid! Let’s just say he could close his eyes and still see.

The point is that using the umbrella for something it was never designed for brought much pain! We broke the umbrella’s purpose and, as a result, broke my brother’s face!

In the fall, Adam and Eve broke the very purpose of their God-given work and it brought pain! Adam and Eve’s occupation was to point to God! His greatness, goodness, and beauty! Their rebellion/sin was to make everything about their own greatness, goodness, and beauty.

They broke the purpose of their work and Genesis 3:17 reveals to us the painful result…

Genesis 3:17, “…to Adam [God] said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in PAIN you shall eat of it all the days of your life…

Not only did their sin bring pain, but also frustration! Using something for a task other than what it was designed for can often bring frustration. A few days ago, my little girl attempted to use the TV remote as a cell phone. This very quickly led to frustration! In breaking the purpose of their work, Adam and Eve’s sin did not only lead to pain, but also to frustration.

Genesis 3:18-19, “…thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. [19] By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


God said, work will be frustrating as the ground will fight you and eventually beat you! You will sweat as you war with the earth until it wins! You will die and you will become a part of the very ground you tried to work…dust.

All your work is futile!

Painful, frustrating work, that seems futile. This is the reality in which we all live and work! This is why our work is painful and frustrating. All of us approach our work through the lens of Genesis 3! We do this in two primary ways… by viewing our work primarily through the SIN of Genesis 3 or through the CURSE of Genesis 3.

Here’s what I mean… First, many of us view our work through the sin of Genesis 3.  Adam and Eve’s sin was choosing to make themselves like God. Instead of working for his glory, they chose to promote their own.  And this is what we do… we work for our own glory!

We look for satisfaction, joy, purpose, meaning, identity, etc in our work! And we don’t ever find it because satisfaction is always one more step away. We get a promotion, but it’s really the next promotion where we will find satisfaction. We get a raise, but it is really the next raise that will bring contentment. Just a little more recognition will bring joy.

…and the joy of glory is always one step beyond our grasp.

Instead of worshipping God through our work and pointing to his glory, we use it as a means to worship ourselves and promote our own glory. Our work consumes us, making us crazy as it becomes our everything! Our very identity and worth is completely wrapped up in our job.


This is one of the primary ways we approach work as a result of the fall. We view our work through the sin of Genesis 3 and we worship work. Our job becomes our everything.

Yet, there is a second common approach to work.  Many of us view our work through the curse of Genesis 3. We look at work and see it as nothing but painful, frustrating, and futile.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, “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, [19] 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.”

The author of Ecclesiastes, laments that he has spent his whole life working and for what?  He says it all amounts to nothing in the end! It’s futile. Death will take away everything we have “gained” through all our toil! Even what we leave behind to be enjoyed by our heirs may only be wasted. Everything seemingly comes to nothing!

All our work and toil ultimately feels pointless, and many of us can, primarily, view our work this way.  So, we end up wasting our work. We are lazy in it, because ultimately… work is nothing.

After the fall… work looks mostly like a problem. We either view it through the sin of Genesis 3. We worship work because it is everything! Or we view it through the curse of Genesis 3. We waste work because it is nothing.

Woman asleep at computer

We know this is not how it was created to be! Is there any hope or are we doomed to pain, frustration, and futility in our work?

That is the question we will tackle tomorrow…


Lent Devotional: Job 21

Job 21 (click here)
[The wicked] spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. 14 They say to God, “Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. 15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” (Job 21:13-15)

Job is once again rebuking his friends and pointing out holes in their tight knit theodicy. Again and again he claims that the wicked do not always experience punishment for their sins, but are often prosperous in this life. Do we not see this played even today?

All around us, people prosper through lying, cheating, oppressing, etc. Dishonesty has become considered necessary if one wants to succeed in gaining power or wealth. Even more than that, how often have you seen someone be successful who has no regard for God… or perhaps they even mock him! Yet, their success seems to have no end.

Without meaning to do so, Job is actually highlighting for us another tactic of Satan to keep people from worshipping the Lord, namely, prosperity. Throughout this book, we have watched Satan use pain to try and get Job to curse God, but I think Satan actually uses prosperity for this purpose even more so than pain.

Perhaps the entire reason he brought pain into Job’s life was that Job was not distracted from worship of the Lord amidst all his original prosperity! Job points out to us that many people who are prosperous see no need for God. There is no purpose in serving him or praying to him, for they have everything they want and couldn’t imagine any more benefit from serving some deity.

This is what happens when we view our relationship with God as a means to some other end. If we only want God so that he will do “x” for us or give us “y” then if we already have it… we don’t need him… and if it is withheld or taken away… we curse him. Pleasure or pain brings our “relationship” with God to ruin when the foundation of that relationship is anything other than joy in God himself!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Ecclesiastes 9

Ecclesiastes 9 (click here)
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12)

Why are we surprised when evil, suffering, and pain come upon us? Why do we all fall prey to the false notion “that could never happen to me…”? We clearly see that this world is broken and full of suffering, but somehow we continue to think that we are immune so that when suffering comes we are as surprised as a bird caught in a snare.

This self-deception runs deeper than simply thinking suffering will not come for us…the root lie we actually tell ourselves is this, “I am in control.” Through pursuing health, wealth, knowledge, power, beauty, popularity, etc we find a false sense of security as if any of these things put us in a position to control our lives.

Yet, if we do what Solomon does…step back and observe the world…we see that suffering is no respecter of persons. Pain and death come for the righteous and unrighteous, the wealthy and poor, the healthy and unhealthy, the wise and the foolish. Nothing under the sun provides any kind of permanent promise.  If we are honest, when we look to ourselves and all that we possess…there is nothing in which to put our faith.

That is why we must look away from ourselves. We may not know our time or what suffering is headed our way, but we can trust the one who does…God. We can trust his promises that he is with us amidst all our suffering and will bring us through it all into eternal joy-filled rest in himself. He is the only one that can make permanent promises…so he is the only one in whom we place our faith.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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