When You Hate Your Job (Suffering)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon declared,

… my heart rejoiced in all my labor; this was my reward from all my labor    [2:10]

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor – this also, I saw, was from the hand of God    [2:24]

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor––it is the gift of God.   [3:12-13]

Ah, yes, to enjoy “the good in his labor.”  Even in the secular press, we are told to find the jobs that we enjoy, because it makes our lives pleasant, it makes us eager to start the day, it makes us feel like we have accomplished something worthwhile.  Even Solomon says that this “is the gift of God.”

But then, when Adam and Eve sinned, Jehovah declared :

“Because you have … eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, …  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground …”  [Genesis 3:17-19]

“Toil” has been described as when, even though one may enjoy his work, there are times when it is not enjoyable, and yet one must keep on going, there is no choice – that is “toil.”  The gross expression of this would be slavery – it doesn’t matter whether you do not like what you do, you must do it.

Will any one of you, who has a slave plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, “Come at once and sit down at table”?   Will he not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink”?  Does he thank the slave because he did what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have only done what was our duty.”  [Luke 17:7-10]

There was one person – and he was not even a “slave”! – who hated his job.  Although we are not told what his mornings were like, I can just imagine that when the alarm went off, he would yell at the rooster to shut up and would bury his head deeper under the pillows.  As he went off to work, it was not with a bright and cheery step, but rather an effort to put one foot before the other.

He didn’t even know when – and if – he would be home that evening. (1)

He wanted to resign, but it was just not allowed. (2)

He got no respect for what he was faithfully doing each day – his popularity was nil. (3)

He hated the work that he had to do, it was one of the most rotten of the “dirty jobs.” (4)  It was not as if he did lousy work – he did exactly what he was told to do – yet his supervisors were stuck in a dilemma: either make his life a living hell, or just kill him. (5)

His name was Jeremiah – “the weeping prophet.”

This is where such things as “the health, wealth and happiness gospel” really fall apart.  Jeremiah was close to the Lord, he was faithfully following the Lord, fully obedient.  He bravely faced the nation, his own People, doing and declaring exactly as Jehovah directed him.  Everything that some believe should automatically bring on “the good life” was being done by this prophet, but he was not happy, nor wealthy, and one might expect that he even had ulcers.  “Suffering is the agony of living” is something with which he was very acquainted.  Still Jeremiah faithfully did his job.

It would be nice to say that we should not have to remain in jobs that we really do not like.  Yet there are many reasons why it does happen.  Again the slave comes to mind, where there is no choice allowed.  Other times there is the need for an income and one must “settle” for a job that is available, even if it is not the one desired.  Other times there are people at work who try to make one’s life miserable, no matter how good a job one does.  Some in the history of faith have been martyred – really or figuratively, ancient or modern – because of jealousy and other types of vendettas (just think of how many years Joseph ended up in prison [Genesis 39:7-20]).

As Jeremiah can tell you, these things really happen.

Truly, if there is opportunity to find a better job, or one that can be enjoyed, then run to it!  But many of us are left with trying to find sense, purpose and hope in jobs that we just do not like.  What are we to do in the meantime?  Jeremiah’s answer is that he did what the Lord wanted him to do, despite the circumstances which faced him.  Joseph also maintained his integrity despite unfairly being sold into slavery [Genesis 38:1-6] and unfairly being thrown into prison [vv 20-23].

Both Jeremiah and Joseph, though, present a contrast worthwhile to ponder.  With Jeremiah, things did not ever go well, whereas with Joseph, he was blessed, successful, and literally ended up on top of everything.  Why this difference?  Why cannot one simply proscribe an outcome that works in all situations, as the “health, wealth and happiness gospel” attempts to do?  Simply because God does not give us a magic formula that works under all conditions.  Instead, each occasion is treated individually, case-by-case, and each is tailored to achieve an outcome necessary to the Lord’s design for that time and place.

It would be nice to be Joseph – although consider the years he spent probably thinking that his were “dead end jobs.”  But think also of the slaves in the American South prior to the Civil War, who lived, most frequently suffered, and died in such “dead end jobs.”  Like Job who was never told why he had to suffer as he did, it is doubtful that most of the slaves ever understood why they endured their tribulation.

Why are we where we are right now?  Why are we in the situation and circumstances we are right now?  How can we find meaning in what we must face?  The one thing that is common between Jeremiah, Joseph and often the African-American slaves was that they threw themselves upon the Lord.  Ultimately that is what we must confront.  We are forced into a faith question: shall we depend on the Lord even when all the props have been pulled out from under us, like Job – in fact, like all of those mentioned above?

Sometimes we are given clues.  We may rub shoulders with people whom we might never have met otherwise, and in a very wonderful way can demonstrate the power of a God Who is found even in the most horrible of conditions (the story of Corrie ten Boom comes to mind here, who was able to share the God Who could be with her and her sister even in a Nazi concentration camp).  As Joseph did to Potipher and the jailer, indeed we also may be able to bring blessings to others through what seems a most unlikely work environment.  Or it may be to identify the steadfastness of God as Jeremiah did when he went about living out the Lord’s will in troubled times.  Jeremiah also had the unpleasant task of making his hearers clarify where they stood in regard to God’s will, which really broke his heart.

Both Sts Paul and Peter call upon slaves – and us – to reframe the conditions of our “employment”:

Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.   [Colossians 3:23-24, also Ephesians 6:5-7]

Slaves, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing.  For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly.   [I Peter 2:18-19]

To understand the disease we have to understand about impotence to clearly get a picture of how these two might come into a specific juncture. They can go with the flow without being tensed about the coming. The more transparent midwayfire.com viagra online overnight the driving instructors and the school are with you, the better. It dilates the blood vessels and boosts blood flow to the reproductive organs. Our purpose, even in terrible work conditions, then, is to make our Lord an active part of our situation.  This does not sugar-coat the job, but it does remind us of an involvement from Him upon which we can depend.  We can go to Him with our disappointments, our frustrations, our helplessnesses and the rest, because we know that these are exactly the same things He also experienced when He walked this earth.  He is not just overseer, He is a participant of our lives.

And therein also lies our hope.  Romans 5:5 tells us that “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” – the hope brings us to contemplate the Love that God has for us which is powerfully and vividly displayed on the Cross and the Resurrection, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us “as a Guarantee” [II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14].  It is the hope that allows us to put one foot in front of the other, even when the environment around us is repugnant.

Sometimes, though, it is our attitudes are the problem when it comes to a job that we hate.  We may be reluctant or down-right defiant in regard to some of the work requirements and therefore bring upon ourselves suffering.  On one hand, there may be legitimate grounds for such refusal, for instance on moral or ethical grounds.  On the other hand, it may be simply the rebellion in our human nature that needs to be confessed and its influence to be denied within the situation.

However there still are those of us who find themselves in the midst of work which is not enjoyable.  And they do suffer, sometimes to a much greater extent that we could imagine.  Their faith is challenged, as God accomplishes His will through them, whether as a Jeremiah or a Joseph.  Yet in the midst of all circumstances, the Lord is also at work and He will bring His plans and goals to completion – for the sake of our lives, for other people’s lives, and for the world.  This is all based upon a love which would not stagger at a cross, which would declare victory in a resurrection, and which would value the partnership we have with Him in offering His gift of eternal life for all who would receive it.

Just as the saints of old experienced in their lives.


(1) Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.   [Jeremiah 20:2]

The princes were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison.  When Jeremiah had come to the dungeon cells, he remained there many days.   [Jeremiah 37:15-16]

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, … letting Jeremiah down by ropes.  There was no water in the cistern, but only mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire. [Jeremiah 38:6]


(2) If I say, “I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His Name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.   [Jeremiah 20:9]


(3)  Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. … I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you …  [Jeremiah 15:10, 20]

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.”   [Jeremiah 18:18]


(4)  I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because Your hand was upon me, for You filled me with indignation.  Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?   [Jeremiah 15:17-18]

O Jehovah, You deceived me, and I was deceived; You are stronger than I, and You prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; every one mocks me.  For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!”  For the word of Jehovah has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.   [Jeremiah 20:7-8]

Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!  Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad. … Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?  [Jeremiah 20:14-18]


(5)  But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”  But, O Jehovah of hosts, Who judges righteously, Who tries the heart and the mind, let me see Your vengeance upon them, for to You have I committed my cause.   [Jeremiah 11:19-20]

Yet, O Jehovah, You know all their plotting to slay me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from Your sight…   [Jeremiah 18:23]


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