There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Eccl. 2:24-26 (ESV)
If you have been reading Ecclesiastes along with me, or if you have read it at all, these verses are a shock! There are not a shock in a bad way, necessarily, but a surprise nonetheless because so far the Preacher has said nothing about joy in a positive sense.
First, he has said that toil is absurd because the results it reaps under the sun are not what one would expect to get – toil doesn’t bring any reward. Here he says, though, that we should find enjoyment in our toil. What he means is, don’t expect toil to reap satisfaction – that shouldn’t be our goal, there’s more to this life. But do look for the moments of joy life can give – God will give.
That’s the second point, that enjoyment in our toil is from the hand of God. There is no joy apart from God. Who can eat or who can have enjoyment apart from him? No one. God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to those who follow him, not pleasing him in the sense that we can earn favor by being “good enough”, but living in the realization that God is good enough and I am in Him.
So as some say, Carpe Diem – seize the day! Enjoy each day that God has given, and don’t bank on the future for happiness. I love how Steven Curtis Chapman says it in his song, Miracle of the Moment (You can hear it as one of the two songs on the player at his website).
And this is the only moment we can do anything about
So breathe it in and breathe it out
Listen to your heartbeat
There’s a wonder in the here and now
It’s right there in front of you
And I don’t want you to miss
The miracle of the moment
Part of an ongoing series on Ecclesiastes