On the one hand, work is dignified and we are called to be responsible and we find significance in the work we do - Gen.1, at the prefall world, work is seen in its perfection, however the opposite do frustrate us, for many of us find work tough because the work has been cursed by God (Gen.3:17). Hence the blissful work in Gen.1 must be put into its proper context of Gen.2:4-5:1.
Are we sold to a lie through Gen.3:17-19, when we placed our hope for a blissful work, yet it produces thorn and thistles, it is hard and we see degeneration of work due to the multiplication of evil. Work ultimately becomes futile when to dust you will return. What is the meaning of work? Why integrate work with faith, and why must faith becomes the lense where work is to be perceived?
In our work, we do find the never ending routine of our daily work, with frustration, where we work long hour with no rest as we cannot get out of this cycle of frustration. There are times, when we work on a deal and then someone pull the plug, or invest in the financial market and then the market crashes.
What about the picture of a lady in India, with a baby strapped to her hips as she works at a pile of brick at the road side? Is there hope for work.
What about Ecc. 2:18-19: I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me, and who knows whether he will be wiseman or a fool: yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
What about all the fuss to the significance of work? Is there one?
The solution are said to be hanging on the cultural mandate of Gen. 2, where this should now be the priority of his redeemed people; to subdue the earth, for work has been created good, fallen and has been redeemed, so that we can be hopeful to see a glimpse of hope in our work.
However this mandate may not be attainable by him in reality, although some original mandate's can be fulfilled, but now with greater frustration and without hope of actually fulfilling Adam's charge to subdue the earth... His rule is no longer Godly' dominion', but rather a fearful domination. There is also a new and necessary instituition of a sword weilding government, one that will have the power to take human life when human blood is shed (9:6).
Hence we should look at the Noahic version, for unlike the Adamic mandate, it is not a progression to paradise, but rather a preservation in a fallen world. We cannot be little Adam striving to accomplish Adam's original work, where we are living in a world where the curse yet remains; and childbirth still involves pain, work still involves sweat, the animals will still run from us, and the creation is still subjected to frustration.
This would probably be the mission of the church- a combined Noahic and culture mandate when we talk about the work life!
We hope to get fulfillment through work but God never intended us to fulfill our potential through work, but yet work is necessary to be understood in its fallenness and through its mandates via the redemptive purpose of God, so that my work makes sense. Hence work is a paradox i=unfolding before our eyes.