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    Our relationship to work is a complicated one. On one hand, we love to be useful and successful; and on the other hand, many of us daydream of retirement. Some of us are striving to be trusted with a type of work in the world, and others are hoping to earn enough to pay their bills. Throughout our Bible work is a common theme. What is your relationship with work? How do you understand it in the bigger picture?
   The Christian storyline of work is an interesting one. In the beginning, God works, plants a garden, and finds delight in His work. In Genesis 1:31 it states, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” But the story of work continues in Genesis 2 as “God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Out of all of God’s creation, humankind is given the dignity of work. Which is probably why so many of us want to work and to be useful, it is a part of our design. Rest is wonderful, but living and moving with excellence and purpose is central to being a healthy human.
     As the story goes, the first humans sinned against God. Their world becomes upended, not just by their removal from paradise, but by how the nature of work changed. In Genesis 3:18 it says that “thorns and thistles” will come out of the ground, attached to the work on this side of paradise. A sad truth for Adam and Eve is that this new work will have frustrations attached to it. What was once easy and woven into the ways of paradise, has now become frustrating and painful.
    Sometimes work is not satisfying or rewarding because there are too many thorns and thistles. Somedays we are lucky to make it to the end of the day. Some people get bruised and scrapped up doing a job, while others seem to breeze through their work. No matter how easy work appears, it still requires some effort to push through, even if it’s built into our design. No wonder we have such a love/hate relationship with work and tasks.
   There are many other Bible passages that talk about work and its role in our world. Work takes an interesting turn when we look at the life of Jesus. Many people consider Jesus’ work to be ministry and teaching, which it was. We can also assume that Jesus spent some time working as a carpenter, under His earthly father. But Jesus’ greatest work ends up bearing the curse found in Genesis, those thorns.
   Matthew 27 describes the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head just before He is hung on a cross to die. Whether the Romans realized it or not, they were telling us that Jesus offering Himself in our place was His greatest work. Wearing a crown of thorns, Jesus directed His Heavenly Father to forgive His assailants, for they did not know what they were doing. In a painful moment Jesus offers Himself as a sacrifice for sin while speaking only words of love and forgiveness. His life was an embodiment and expression of the Divine at your service!
   The Bible presents God as a worker. Working to contribute to the good of all. Similarly, the Bible presents humans as created in the image of a working God. Whether you are working with numbers, moving chaos to order, raising children, tilling dirt, or adding beauty, remember your work is always rooted in God. So, “May the favor of our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)