Monday, January 18th, 2010...1:15 am

Give thanks, pull out the nail, and fix it

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I’m sure that you, like me, have had situations when you labored in vain.  It is part of the toil of living in a cursed world.  The ground produces thorns and thistles which are representative of the difficulties we encounter in every vocation.  Pests infest crops; data is lost on computers; thieves break in and steal; and moths and rust destroy our possessions.  When I lose something that I’ve worked hard on, my temptation to despair and give up is very great.  Few things, if any, in this world deal a fiercer blow to my morale than putting a great deal of work into something and then losing it.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was tempted in every way and yet was without sin.  Prior to his explicit ministry, Jesus was a carpenter, apprenticed by his earthly father Joseph (see Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3).  As a carpenter, Jesus had to contend with the vanities inherent in labor under the sun.  Even if you “measure twice and cut once,” you still have to deal with bad nails and warped wood.  Every carpenter who has ever existed has had the frustrating experience of having to repeat work when a board split or when something wasn’t quite level.  Every carpenter has to make repairs; it’s part and parcel of the job.  What would Jesus the carpenter have done when he encountered situations such as these?

First, Jesus would give thanks.  It should go without saying that Jesus was better acquainted with the sovereignty of God the Father than any other man in the history of the world.  He knew better than Paul that God works all things (including our trials and the occasional futility of our labor) together for those who love Him.  As such, the first response from Jesus would be one of thanksgiving.

Second, Jesus would rectify the problem.  He wouldn’t just give up in frustration (as I am so apt to do), and he certainly wouldn’t make a shoddy attempt to cover it up and attempt to pass off substandard work as legitimate.  Jesus would make the necessary repairs and do so without grumbling or complaining.

We have been redeemed in Jesus Christ.  The man who repaired carpentry as a youth repaired mankind when he secured our salvation by making atonement for our sins.  And we are being conformed by the Holy Spirit into his likeness.  When we labor in futility, we need to realize that it isn’t futile if it’s in Christ.  We need to see it as a refining experience ordained by the Triune God before the foundation of the world for our good and his glory.  We ought to give thanks rather than tearing our clothes in despair and moping around in the ashes.  In persevering with thanksgiving through the trials of losing our work or the fruit of our labors, we are beating back the darkness in the name of Jesus Christ who came to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

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