What gain has the worker from his toil?  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man. (Eccles. 3:9-13 (ESV)
In the last article I wrote on Ecclesiastes we saw that life is a gift of God to be enjoyed. We also saw that sin and death have robbed life of much of its meaning and purpose, but that Christ has overcome death and secured eternal life for all who believe in his death and resurrection. Christ has conquered death that life once again might be enjoyed. So why don’t we enjoy it?
Even if we do for the most part enjoy life, we don’t always enjoy it. Sin and death make their attacks on our souls. I don’t know that I have ever met a person who has not had a depressing day. Often times, there is a depression of sort that looms behind even the cheeriest personalities.
Perhaps people are able to ignore death for the most part. But death strikes close to home for all of us at some point. Aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sister, parents and children, we have all lost a relative or two we loved. It seems today that there is a push to have a party rather than a funeral. I can’t help but to think this is nothing more than an attempt to continue ignoring the pink elephant in the room. Not that the funeral has to be all depressing. The problem is, as I see it, people aren’t allowing themselves time to grieve. And the joy and celebration is not really joyous. It is a façade, a cheery personality hiding depression. Never dealing with death and grief properly, we prolong it. It sours our life, we never do learn to truly enjoy it again.
There are people it seems who spend their whole lives and don’t enjoy a bit of it. Ecclesiasties talks about them. They are busy collecting everything. They have the big house, the best toys, perhaps even the most, a great job etc. But they don’t enjoy it. Their life is a living heck. (A place for those who don’t believe in gosh.) Solomon says that they are busy collecting and others enjoy. They themselves are never satisfied with the toys they have amassed, and need to go back to the job they hate to buy a new one.
Others it seems check out completely. They try to find joy in sin. Oh sin can be fun. I know. But it isn’t worth the hangover that follows. And by that I don’t mean to imply that drinking is sinful, or drunkenness the only sin. It is just that for every action there is a reaction. We can’t really avoid sin or sinning. But living a life of fornication, drunkenness, adultery, illicit drug use etc, doesn’t normally, read ever, turn out well, or very enjoyable in the end. Just empty.
This is the predicament. How is life to be enjoyed? Two extremes are proposed by the world and neither really works out. There isn’t much joy in asceticism, or libertinism. Though, my personality admittedly leans toward the libertine. (Asceticism actually offends me.)
Well, Solomon gives some advice. There is nothing better than to be joyful, and do good as long as you live. Also you should eat, drink, and take pleasure in your toil. Quit chasing after the wind. That is as frustrating as a busted deer hunt. Except that hunt can be a lifelong busted hunt. You will never catch the wind. The point is to stop worrying about the worldly things. A few words from jesus may be helpful here:
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Con sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)
God having given us the Kingdom, gives everything else we need too. So in the end we don’t need to distract ourselves in work and chase after the wind, or drown ourselves in sinful excess. No, we can trust in God, who loves us so much he gave his son to die for us, and find joy in doing good for the sake of doing good, and finding enjoyment in that which God has given for us to eat and drink, taking pleasure in the toil that he has given us too– This is God’s gift to man.