‘Honey, I’m Home’: Work, Separation from Family, and Everlasting Rest

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God created work.  

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  Genesis 2:15

Work is neither an accident nor a curse, but is God’s intention for humanity.  He creates man and woman and puts them in Eden for the purpose of working it and keeping it.  This means growing and gathering food, making a cozy place to sleep, and providing for their children are good things.  It is expected for them to use their intellect, physical strength, and ingenuity to make a living.

Can you imagine it?  The land handed over its bounty to Adam and Eve, who gave as they received, and lived in perfect communion with God and each other.  Close your eyes and picture Adam smiling at Eve before climbing a high tree to gather fruit while Eve perfected her mattress design.

Work is cursed.

“Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…” Genesis 3:17-19

“God created work” is a tough statement, especially on that Monday morning when you just spilled coffee on your lap on the expressway, or when you see that pile of paperwork that followed you home, or when your head hurts from talking so much.

If I’m being honest with myself, I won’t consider myself a “worker.”  I work in a clean, air-conditioned shopping mall helping people with computers and phones.  This is nothing compared to the oppressive conditions faced by coal miners in China or sulphur miners in Indonesia or migrant workers from Mexico.  Nevertheless, my wife and I both go to work, face challenges, and often come home exhausted, with not much to say.

Living in an agrarian society, the Genesis curse would have made more immediate sense to Adam and Eve.  Just as Eve would bring forth children in pants and screams, Adam’s plow would dig into groaning, unpredictable soil.  I personally don’t see this part of the curse because I buy food from a grocery store.  I’m not a farmer, and neither are most of the people I know; however, the curse spreads across any context.  This isn’t meant to be a “let’s complain about the curse” post, so I want to highlight just one aspect of it.

If I did my math right, if you work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, you will be spending almost 1/4 of your time at work.  If you’re part-time like me, it’ll be a little less than that.  Unless you work alongside your spouse or with your friends and family, you are going to spend 25% of your time away from the people you love.

The reason why this is so tough is that, deep down, we know we have only been given a certain number of hours with them.  The next time you see your spouse will be eight hours later.  You know that when you leave for that business trip, your child may have lost a tooth by the time you get home.  You haven’t been able to see your best friend for a month because of conflicting work schedules.

One recalls when Jacob tells Pharaoh, “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning” (Gen 47:9).  This is also why Paul tells the Ephesians “make the most out of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  That missed conversation because you are both exhausted is the Genesis 3 sweat on our brows.

Everlasting rest. 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Jesus gives eternal life.  This is life with no end where we will be ever growing in the knowledge of God and joy in God.  We will grow in communion with one another and love towards one another as well.  The curse will be banished from this blessed land.  The renewed land itself will again gladly bear fruit even after it coughed up food for so long under sickness caused by our wickedness.

If we do gather food to enjoy in our glorified bodies, or even conduct business and farm, Satan cannot frighten us with the fear of separation and loneliness, as we have eternity to live together in celebratory gratitude to God for everything He is and everything He has done for us in Christ.  There is no finish line to tease us in the back of our minds.  And the good news is that this starts now as we live in an overlap between the times.  Christians live facing a cursed world daily, but have faith in the one who has already taken separation upon Himself on the cross and was resurrected to give hope to days spent racing against the clock.


Written by keywoodblog

March 7, 2012 at 3:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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