Faith and Work in Advent: Week 1—Hope

The four weeks prior to Christmas represent a time of reorientation for Christians through the season of advent. Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus by reflecting on the pleading of the Jewish people for a Messiah. As well, we’re reminded of our own need for a Savior today, and we expectantly plead for his second coming, just as we prepare to celebrate his first coming. The reversal of the curse of sin began with Jesus’ meek and mild first entrance into the world, but it will one day be fully realized in the triumphal second advent.

We at CFWLA are celebrating this season of advent expectation with a four-part series of devotionals that seek to honestly acknowledge the depth of our brokenness and the far-reaching hope of the gospel, specifically in the work we engage with every day. Part one of our series will focus on Jesus as our only hope. As the famous hymn goes, “He comes to make his blessings flow as far as the curse is found.”


15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”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.
— Genesis 3:15-18
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
— Revelation 21:5

The ground is cursed, and this should come as no surprise.

If you’ve endured the difficulties of a 9-to-5, you know the depth of depravity. The original sin of Adam has permeated our souls through and through. The fruit of our labor leaves its thorny scars on our arms and hands, tearing at our work ethic, our determination, and our hope. We bear the consequences of Adam’s sin. But if I’m honest with myself, I know that I would have eaten the fruit as well, probably before he did. I am just as guilty as he is.

We gather our resources in pain. Whether it’s in the toil of food production, recalled produce, an obsessive individualism, or seeking ultimate satisfaction in a job, the things we are prone to consume make us suffer. It takes hard, grinding, numbing labor to produce that which we need to live and to reject that which we don’t.

Eden’s punishment is not without Calvary’s promise. Though our work often feels in vain, Christ knows. He understands. And he cares.

We bear children in pain. Whether it’s the grueling task of giving birth, the often thankless toil of homemaking, or raising a rebellious child, there is no perfection in parenthood. Just as the husband may be prone to subjugate his wife, so the market is sometimes prone to undervalue women workers. If the ground is cursed, how can we expect anything different from the economy?

The ground is cursed, but Christ has come to cure it.

Eden’s punishment is not without Calvary’s promise. Though our work often feels in vain, Christ knows. He understands. And he cares. As a carpenter, it is no stretch to say he knows what it’s like to not be able to please customers. He knows what it’s like to endure callouses from stubborn tools and materials. He knows what it’s like to say, “Not my will, but yours be done,” when called to change vocations and suffer all the while.

The Carpenter endured a wooden cross on our behalf. So often we forget that the cross and resurrection were not only to forgive sin, but to inaugurate the Kingdom.

13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. 14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
— Isaiah 49:13-15

We so often spend our time feeling forgotten in our work—feeling like God doesn’t care, feeling like he has abandoned us, feeling like he can’t rescue us from the culture of depravity and hopelessness around us. But rest assured. The Spirit is at work.

Your job is not ordinary because your Creator is extraordinary.

In Monday morning meetings and late Friday nights, we are participating in the redemption of all things, cultivating creation and collaborating with the Creator. Your job is not ordinary because your Creator is extraordinary. Take heart, beloved of the Most High. Your faithful work is not in vain because Christ’s work was not in vain.

We will not see the full redemption of all things before Christ comes back. But, at this season of Advent, let us remember that he is coming back, and he is coming back soon. The King is upon the throne, and he will soon make his dwelling place with us once more (Rev. 21:3).

Prayer

“Almighty God, would you help me to see the hope of the resurrection in the mundane. Would you help me to taste the fruit of abiding with you when the fruit of my labor is sour. Would you help me to hear your words of comfort and wisdom when I am unsure of my calling. Thank you for your presence and power, and thank you that you are coming again soon. Amen.”


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Will Sorrell (MDiv and MBA Candidate, Beeson Divinity School and Brock School of Business at Samford University) is a graduate student researcher for the Beeson Divinity Global Center, focusing on faith and work, business as mission, and entrepreneurship and investing. He lives in Birmingham, AL. with his bride and Labrador retriever. You can follow him on Twitter.