We Have No Idea What Hard Work Is

I’ve been watching this show called Restoration Road on the Magnolia Network. I really, really enjoy it. In the show, the host, Clint Harp (he’s the guy that made all the tables for Joanna Gaines in the original Fixer Upper show) takes us to see these old buildings that are being restored and repurposed to bring new life into them.

There is so much I love about shows like these.

A Restoration Story

First, I love the idea of restoration; of bringing new life into things lost or forgotten. After all, God is in the business of restoration, isn’t he?

Mine is a story of restoration.

I think because of that, restoration is kind of in my DNA now. Stories of renewal strike a cord in my heart that other stories just don’t. We all need restoration. We can all be renewed.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” - 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

History Repeats

I am intrigued by history and I love listening to the stories behind these amazing structures. There are some that have been around since before the Revolutionary War. We’re talking over 200 years! Imagine how much these buildings have seen in their time. There’s just so much history under one roof (or what’s left of a roof).


Lastly (and the thing I really want to touch on), I am blown away by the work that it takes to create something like these buildings.

After hundreds of years these structures are still incredible. Sure, some pieces aren’t the same as they were when they were put together. Everything succumbs to entropy, right? But the majority of these buildings have withstood war, and wind, and water, and any other “W” word you could probably think of. That’s insane.

We don’t build things like this anymore.

We don’t build for craftsmanship. Or longevity. Or legacy.

We build for speed, economics, and scale. We ask questions like:

  • “How fast can we build this?”
  • “How cheaply can we build this?”
  • “How many of these cheap, fast things can we build at the same time?

Our forefathers knew they were going to build one barn and it had to last an entire lifetime. Or lifetimes, plural. For us, if we are tired of the one we have we can just throw it away and build another one.

But I Digress

Here’s what I wanted to get to today.

The folks back in the 1700s and 1800s didn’t have the power tools we do. They didn’t have cranes to move beams into place. They didn’t have ready made boards they could buy from the local hardware store. They couldn’t just order up a 50-foot beam from the lumber yard and have it delivered on a truck.

They had to go cut down the tree for that beam. And then spend days (DAYS!) with just themselves and an axe while they hewed that tree into the beam they needed. Then they needed to get 40 of their closest friends to help them lift that giant beam into place along with the rest of the walls and rafters and roofing and everything else it took to put together their building. People helped each other because that’s how they survived. They worked hard for themselves and for each other so that they could make it through another unimaginably brutal winter.

Back then, you couldn’t hire a construction crew to come build your house. You couldn’t go down to the grocery store to pick up your vegetables. You planted. You waited. You watered, weeded, and harvested. And if you didn’t, you were hungry.

There was no Amazon to bring your milk, eggs, and fabric softener to your door.

Watching this show, in the comfort of my living room, on my flat screen television connected to the internet has reminded me of something extremely important:

We have no idea what hard work really is anymore.

Don’t Get Mad

Now, before you go getting mad at me for telling you that you don’t know what hard work is, I want you to know that I’m in this boat too. I’m talking to myself more than anyone else reading this.

I mean, I work indoors where it’s heated and/or cooled all year round. I sit in front of a computer and make things for the internet all day. I know that I have it so good.

I see the irony in my statement when I just want some more automated/faster/easier way to sand down the football helmet I am working on refurbishing.

I hear how silly I sound when I can’t be bothered to cook a meal and instead order a pizza that I’m even too lazy to go pick up.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know what it’s like to really work hard.

I just don’t.

We live in an age of information. It’s not an age of agriculture or architecture. We no longer have to grow our own food or build our own buildings. For most of us today, it’s not a sweat-of-your-brow, work-with-your-hands-or-you’ll starve kind of deal.

That’s means we’ve progressed … and that’s good!

But what have we lost in the process?

Personally, I’ve lost what it means to work hard. Maybe, deep down, I’ve never really known it. But thanks to shows like Restoration Road, I’m gathering a greater appreciation for it. I have a greater awe and wonder for what our forefathers would have had to do to even just survive.

I’m thankful for the time I live in. I was made for this era.

And I’m more and more grateful for those who have come before me.