Fallen and Redeemed Work
Open Your Bible
Genesis 3:17-19, Ecclesiastes 2:18-26, Romans 8:19-23, Ecclesiastes 9:9-10, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:23, Philippians 2:12-16
I was once a well-oiled working machine, churning out articles, speaking at conferences, ministering within my capacity and out of my weaknesses and strengths. While I’d never envisioned myself as an unmarried woman, I found fullness and contentment in the plot God had given me to tend.
Then I got married. And moved. And moved again. I’m no longer in my home, or church, or comfort zone. I still don’t really know anyone here, and we haven’t found a local church home in the D.C. area yet. We feel displaced.
Meanwhile, all the work that’s been done in me and through me is suddenly no longer for me. I can’t write about singleness anymore. I’ve begun to see others picking up the banner I laid down for the gift of marriage—and I’ve resented myself for losing it. My heart echoes King Solomon’s words:
“I hated all my work that I labored at under the sun because I must leave it to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile” (Ecclesiastes 2:18–19).
There is this sadness in me that I cannot shake. The earthly identity I worked hard to build, and tried my best to bear faithfully, is no longer mine to carry. Those days of fruitful ministry feel very far behind me across the chasm of this difficult year. The enemy loves to taunt me, to tell me I’ve wasted and been wasted, that all those words and thoughts are now lost. It’s hard to trust that my previous work has not been done in vain, though I know it was never mine to begin with. It was always His.
I dreamt of this time for years, didn’t I? I longed to be married. Why then is it so hard to reconcile the work I once did with the work I’m called to now? I agonize over how to spend the eleven-hour days stretching from the still-dark hours through sunset when my husband returns. I sweep the kitchen floor, wash the towels, and put fresh flowers in the vase, growing weary and resentful of all I’ve lost, straining to remember that I’ve also gained. Happy as my husband and I are together, happy as I am to be called his wife, this place in life is still not our true home. It isn’t supposed to be.
Today I do four loads of laundry. I sweep the kitchen floor. I write. I text Nate and our friends to tell them I love them, that I’m praying for them. I heed King Solomon’s words: “Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But in my struggle as a new stay-at-home wife, I remember that work is still work, no matter the title, no matter how blessed. God explained this to Adam at the fall, that the work of his hands would be hard from then on (Genesis 3:17). And it still is, for all of us. It will be until the day in Glory when pain in all its forms is no more (Revelation 21:4).
Sometimes the days drag on, the work feels endless. I can’t sort through the mountain of to-dos quickly enough, and yet it feels like I’m searching for things to do with my hands. But this is the plot to which I am called today: this home, this house, this husband. It is a life both better and harder than I imagined, and it’s being redeemed by God with every light and heavy step along the way. “For it is God who is working in [us] both to will and to work according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).