5 reasons to give thanks for “thorns and thistles” that make work difficult

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18)

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I don’t know who coined this popular piece of fortune cookie wisdom, but I can tell you they never read Genesis 3.

After sin entered the world, God said that work will be “painful toil…all the days of your life.” Not “painful toil…until you choose a job you love.” Work will be frustrating until the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23).

Now, I love what I do. I’ve never been more confident that creating content like these devotionals is the work God created me to do. And Lord willing, I’ll be helping you connect the gospel to your work for the next 50 years.

But even though I love my work, it sure feels like work some days. It’s hard, frustrating, and exhausting at times.

But here’s what I’m learning: Even though God never designed work to be painful (see Genesis 1 and 2), there are still great blessings to be found in the curse. There are reasons to give thanks for the “thorns and thistles” that make work difficult.

Over the next five weeks, I’m going to share five of those reasons with you. Here’s the first: We should give thanks for thorns and thistles because they force us to rely on God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

But if all of our paths were already straight, we wouldn’t see much of a need to “trust in the Lord with all our heart” would we? And so, we can thank God when we can’t see which path to take in our work because our lack of clarity forces us to “walk humbly with our God” (see Micah 6:8).

Where is the path painfully unclear in your work today? Are you frustrated with a boss or client and not sure how to deal with them? Are you unclear on how you’re going to hit payroll this month? Are you simply burnt out and don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel?

Lament over your “painful toil.” Then go to the Lord in prayer and ask him to “make your paths straight.” Then thank him for the “thorns and thistles” he’s using to lead you to rely on him.


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