It often seems as if people today, especially in Western societies, are defined, and define themselves, by their work or their profession. When people meet for the first time, one of the initial questions is often, “So, what do you do?”
While today’s blue-toothed, internet connected era has made it easier to accomplish more, it has also made it more difficult to divide our lives between work and home. Thus, in many ways, humankind in the 21st century has it no easier than the 18th century farmer–only different.
Yet, at the end of a day, or a year, or a decade, or a lifetime, many people often find themselves identifying closely with the mournful message of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” More and more people feel that after all their work and effort, they have not gained very much. After all, you can’t take it with you!
Why do we work? Humankind works because after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God told Adam “By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread, until you return to the ground...” (Genesis 3:19). And truly, many of us in the 21st century do work by the sweat of our brows--meaning that although we are not sweating in the fields, we are busy with complex computations and other strenuous mental work.
But was the curse really a curse? Think of the satisfaction we feel from a job done well. Think of the sense of pride we have when we know we’ve given our all. And think about how much more we appreciate the good things around us after a long hard day.