As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles upon an enchanted mirror. Unlike normal mirrors, this one does not show the reflection of the person standing in front of it. Instead, it shows a reflection of “the deepest, most desperate desire” of that person’s heart.
But the object inside the mirror is just a mirage—a tantalizing vision trapped on the other side of the glass. This, of course, drives the mirror’s visitors mad with frustration.
But you and I both know this is a blessing in disguise. Because even if they were able to get their hands on the object of their affection, unless that object was Christ, it would inevitably disappoint.
My temptation, and I think yours, is to look to our careers for the very thing Harry was searching for inside that mirror—complete and cosmic joy. But as Jesus makes clear in today’s passage, our joy will only be made complete through his love.
Not through our families. Not through our health. Not through landing a promotion, selling your business, or being recognized in your field.
And so, we can praise God for the days when our work feels like less than complete joy. Because our “painful toil” is reminding us that Christ alone can fully satisfy us. For this reason, John Mark Comer says this:
“I think the curse is a blessing in camouflage. It’s God’s love in disguise. His mercy incognito. Because the curse drives us to God. If it weren’t for the curse…we would look to whatever it is we do for work or rest, and we would find it. And nothing could be more disastrous for the world than God’s image bearers finding identity and belonging and even satisfaction apart from him.”
Should we lament over cursed work? Absolutely! Because God didn’t design our work to be painful (see Genesis 1-2 and Isaiah 65).
But as we’ve seen in this series, we can also praise God for the blessings he brings us through cursed, frustrating, painfully difficult work. Because “thorns and thistles”:
In light of those truths, give thanks for the thorns and thistles you encounter in your work today!