Today’s Reading: Ecclesiastes 1 – 6
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. The wise and the foolish share the same fate – they both die. All of our hard work, everything we have earned or acquired, we leave behind to someone else. We cannot take it with us when we die. Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. This is meaningless – like chasing after the wind.
These are the thoughts of King Solomon after devoting himself to the search for understanding and exploring everything being done under the sun. He discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.
I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” – Ecclesiastes 2:1-2
I have to admit that Ecclesiastes is not one of my favorite books of the Bible. King Solomon initially comes across much like Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Eeyore. But, in the midst of Solomon’s cynical and negative rant, he offers us some great words of wisdom to live by. He teaches us how to relax in some of these negative realities and enjoy the life God has blessed us with.
So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are FROM THE HAND OF GOD. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? – Eccl. 2:24-25
Everything is…a gift from the hand of God.
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are GIFTS FROM GOD. – Eccl. 3:9-13
Another gift from God that Solomon highlights is our relationships with other people:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:9-12).
Solomon’s words of wisdom continue:
As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut…let your words be few…Keep all the promises you make to him…Don’t let your mouth make you sin…Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead (Eccl. 5:1-7).
Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth – except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!…Hoarding riches harms the saver…We can’t take our riches with us…And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – this is indeed a GIFT FROM GOD. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Eccl. 5:10-20).
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless – like chasing the wind (Eccl. 6:9).
I must confess I have had moments where I was more focused on what I did not have than on what I did have. Have you been there? Have you found yourself half happy and half mourning? Have you spent time dreaming about what could be instead of soaking in the blessings of what is? Even right now, are you chasing the wind?
Here is a great example from my life. In 2011, we moved to the Dallas, Texas area. I loved our new life! The Church was wonderful, the schools and community were great, and the food was delicious. God blessed us with a beautiful home with a small pool in the back yard. Life was good. But life in Texas meant we were far from family and that my job with Living Alternatives would soon come to an end. I loved our life in Texas, but missed family and friends in Illinois and dreaded the coming loss of my job.
Then, only 17 months later, God moved us back to Illinois. We were close to our family again and I was able to keep my job. God was richly blessing our family and we were happy, yet we were all missing our new Texas church family and friends. Even attending church was a struggle. For the first time in a long time, I was neither the pastor’s daughter nor the pastor’s wife. I mourned the loss of this role and struggled to feel at home in our new church. I was surrounded by gifts from God yet had my “Eeyore” moments of feeling sorry for myself and grieving what I did NOT have. How foolish of me!
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.
God is SO good and God is SO generous! Why do we feel sorry for ourselves when we are surrounded by His blessings? Why do we fail to recognize the pleasures in life that come straight from the hand of God? God has made EVERYTHING beautiful for its own time. There is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy this time in our life! No looking back at what we have lost or looking down at what we are missing. Life is meant for looking around at all our blessings and looking up at the Source of those blessings!
Lord, I thank you for the food I eat and for the people you have placed in my life. I thank you for the joy I find in working hard for you. Lord, when I start to have an “Eeyore” moment, help me recognize it and find my inner “Tigger”. Lord, forgive me for the moments over the last few years when I have felt sorry for myself, when contentment is just out of reach.
Father God, we thank you for the many gifts you give us so generously. Forgive us for the moments when our focus is on what we don’t have, or our minds wander to what we wish our life could be. Thank you for the opportunity to learn this morning from King Solomon, in all of his wisdom. Help us to relax in YOUR plan for our life. Plant eternity in our hearts and give us eyes to see the grand scope of your plan. Amen.