When struggling with “work that wounds”— work that’s “cross-bearing, self-denying, and life-sacrificing,” as Lester DeKoster describes it — we can content ourselves by remembering that God is with us in the workplace and our work has meaning.
But although these truths are powerful, God has not left us with only head knowledge and philosophical upgrades. When we give our lives to Christ and choose a path of transformation and obedience, the fruits of the Spirit will manifest in real and tangible ways, despite our circumstances. We will find meaning, but we will also experience peace, patience, and joy, even when it doesn’t make sense.
In Music Box, a classic Christian film from the early 1980s, we see an apt demonstration of this. The joy of the Lord is indeed our strength, not just as some abstract idea, but in real and noticeable ways through the application of mind to hands and hands to creative service. The Gospel breathes new life, even into the most dark and plodding situations.
Watch it here:
In the film, we see a tired and moping man, who lives a life of drudgery at a factory, followed by misery and disconnect at home. The solution? On his way home from work, he finds a magical music box that triggers a chorus of angels. God reminds him of the gift of Jesus — a lesson that sets the man about gift-giving of his own joy and purpose to other people, a newfound capacity that God continues to stretch throughout the film. In short, he’s awakened to the reality that all is gift.
It’s dated, kitschy, and more than a bit cheesy, and some might shrug it off as a fairly straightforward Gospel message. And yet, the Gospel is as simple a solution as our wounding work and family dysfunction requires: the life-transforming, joy-infusing power of the blood of Christ.
“When God gives a gift, he gives it unto you,” the lead angel sings. “Not to keep or store, but spread a joy anew.”
As we pursue stewardship for the glory of God, let’s remember that we need more than a strong theology of work or a grand philosophical framework. All of that is an empty shell without a full-blown invasion of the love of Jesus and the joy of the Lord.