The term "Great Resignation" has frequently appeared in the news lately. Between COVID-19 and other societal upheavals, people are rethinking their relationship with work. Many are wondering, "Why does work matter?" Do we spend most of our lives doing something just because we have to? Even if you work in a profoundly impactful field, you might still contemplate all you could do if you didn't have to work. If you could just contribute how and when you want, imagine what you could do with all that free time. The thing is, we do have to work to survive, and that's just a fact of life. If I moved into a cabin in the mountains and went off the grid, I'd still have to work to survive. It would require more work than anything I do now, but I bet I'd have more energy. And that's the root of the issue: Work does not deflate us; the world's noise does. When we strip away the pressures of an imperfect world, what is the purpose of work?
Struggling is the outcome of sin entering the world. However, struggling is not the same as work. In the beginning, God created humans in His image, and a desire to work was part of that design. God intended for us to work before we chose to see evil.
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." - Genesis 2:15
Now sin affects how we work, but the original purpose of work is still an innate part of who we are. Evil causes chaos, suffering, and unhealthy work environments. It causes pain in our jobs and all our other aspirations. Yet beneath those earthly struggles, we have the instinct to create and move forward. We are a reflection of God's will, and through Him, we have a calling to build and produce in the places God leads us.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." - Psalm 19:1
Contribution requires ongoing work. We can recognize that when we look at our relationships with our family and friends, and when caring for ourselves. We work to grow with others and show support through actions. Even when it's not fun, we find fulfillment in work that connects and moves us forward. With that in mind, most of us would rather deal with this complicated world than live alone in the woods. So how do we find that kind of fulfillment in our jobs? For some, switching careers may help, but what if that's not an option? What if you feel discontent no matter what you try? That is why we must start by understanding that work itself matters to God, not just the "big picture" outcomes. We can see in Isaiah 65:17-25 that God's plan for our perfect future involves work. In an idyllic world, we would live to give and receive because that is who God is. Any “utopia” without work would be a picture of discontentment. Despite the corruption in this life, we are still better off working than not. Sure, a couple of months of vacation sounds great, but ultimately, work is intrinsic to our relationship with God.
If you're at a temporary job that has nothing to do with your future goals, you are contributing. If you think you're just helping a big company get richer, God is using your work. If your job is killing your passion, yes, pursue your dreams! But you will only have freedom when you trust that all your work is for the glory of God. That doesn't have to mean the 9-5 grind; we all have unique skills and paths. It does mean giving your best and taking responsibility wherever you are. It’s an opportunity to shine a light through your character to point others toward Jesus. So, the question isn't, "Does work matter?" but "Am I acknowledging that my work matters?" Because the more you trust God through your work, the more peace you will have in situations you can't control. You will seek better solutions to your work-related problems when you know that God's nature includes work, and it is good.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.