As we saw last week, our work – whatever we do – is a gift from God. If that is so, we may ask the question, “then why are there so many problems at my job?”
The answer is found in the declaration of judgment given to Adam by God after Adam disobeyed God.
Genesis 3:17–19 (ESV) — 17 And to Adam he 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; 18 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.”
Notice the consequence of Adam’s sin was a cursed ground. Therefore, the environment in which he will be working will be hard and will contain several obstacles that will hinder success in providing bread. Some of these obstacles include pain which represents stress in working, thorns and thistles which indicate a sense of antagonism in the workplace, sweat which indicates a sense of frustration, disparity from a lack of results, alienation as he worked long hours, the lack of contentment and satisfaction, and the tendency to idolization. Then God reminds him that he is but dust. Wow! How much of that can you identify in your workplace? I am sure you can connect with at least one, but probably several, out of that list. So what’s up with problems at work, if work is a gift from God?
Since we know the root cause of all problems is sin in the world, we need to accept the fact that there are no perfect work situations. The world is broken and filled with broken people as a result of sin so we need not be surprised when people, equipment, or the environment in which we work lets us down.
But wait! God is in control and He has a purpose for all things in our lives, including the problems we face at work.
Daniel 4:34–35 (ESV) — 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
James 1:16–18 (ESV) — 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
For the believer, everything should be viewed as a gift from God, and He only gives good gifts. That means by faith we accept the fact that God has a purpose for the problems we face, and He is the ultimate cause of all that goes on in our life.
Romans 8:29–32 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
God declares that His purpose in working all things together for our good is to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. In other words, He is more concerned about our character than He is our comfort – yet He comforts us with His comfort in every situation. So what is He doing?
Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Love is a fruit of the spirit. Where is love developed? Not in a loveable situation because that would mean we come up with love on our own and take pride in it. But when we rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves praying for and even loving unlovable people at work, then it’s the fruit of the Spirit and God gets the glory. But unless we faced the unruly supervisor, we would not experience this fruit. Problems have purpose. Problems, combined with God’s power, produce fruit.
I hope you see the point but let’s look at another one and take the fruit of patience. Patience is not developed in a chair at the beach. Rather, patience is developed as you face problems with equipment and/or people on the job. It’s at that time the Holy Spirit brings out calmness and patience but there is no credit for yourself – only for God.
Are you facing problems at work? Take heart, God is in control so rely upon Him as you seek Him and His help. Apply yourself to what God is doing. Recognize that His agenda may be different from yours which means you move in your mind from your definition of success to His which is transformation. That will decrease the feeling of disappointment in problems as you recognize God at work in your life because He cares about you. If He cared about Paul enough to connect him to the following lesson, think of how He cares for you in the problems you are facing.
2 Corinthians 12:7–9 (ESV) — 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.