This passage from Ecclesiastes has always felt like a real downer to me throughout my life. But after graduating college about two years ago I see this passage in a totally new light.
As I started post-graduate work in May of 2019, I felt like there was a lot of pressure to get my finances in order and become a stable adult. So, over the last year and a half I have focused a lot of time and energy on figuring out the perfect strategies for 401ks, find the best apartment and other common post-graduate endeavors. What I failed to keep in mind is what Ecclesiastes 2 reminds me, that whether it is finding the perfect apartment or getting better at scheduling time for hobbies none of it is going to satisfy me or be what gives my life meaning, only God can fill that role and I should be focusing on Him. It also assures me that my life’s meaning and value does not rest on my ability to succeed at achieving my goals or building something incredible in this world.
While this new perspective on the passage changes this passage from just a lament into a comforting reminder of what is important, this does not answer the thing about this passage that had bothered me for so long. Why would a loving God give us the desire and drive to build a life and relationships if in the end all our life’s work is like chasing the wind?
I think that I kind of found an answer later in the chapter. Near the end of Chapter two in verse 24 Solomon states, “So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy the 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?”
To me this means that while the work we do and times we enjoy with our loved ones cannot fulfill us or give our lives meaning in place of God, He has given the joys we find in this world as a gift. We should not spend all our time hunting for the importance or value in a gift from our Father but thank Him for it and cherish it while continuing to deepen our relationship with Him.
- How do you express gratitude to God for all the joys He has brought into your life? Make a point of spending extended time in thanksgiving to God today.
by Samuel Thompson