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…
(Ecclesiastes 2:24 ESV)
I didn't like my job. In fact, most days I really hated it. I didn't really like where I lived. There was a ton of stuff in my life that I didn't like. We all have these types of things right–family, jobs, school… (insert witty answer here)? My days used to consist of driving 50 miles to work. I would clean windows at a person's house, usually risking life and limb by hanging from some ladder or walking on some steep roof, only to make a fraction of what the job cost.
Why did I HATE going to work so much? Why do people work so hard for so little? Why do people strive most of their lives for something that the Bible says is meaningless? "Everything is meaningless" (NIV); "Everything is vanity" (ESV)…this is not vanity like we think of people being vain. This is the Hebrew word "hebel," which means basically "a puff of breath." Everything under the sun is more or less us going "puff." It has no value. No meaning. Solomon is very dark in this. What a sad existence.
Until we get to Ecclesiastes 2:24. Solomon here is saying that there is nothing better in life to do than "eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil." Why? "this…is from the hand of God." That changes everything. Solomon is not saying, "eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die." That couldn't be further from what he's saying. What Solomon is saying here is that "if we're able to eat a delicious steak, or drink a refreshing cup of water or soda or whatever… or if we're able to take a run outside… plant a garden…have a wife and kids…ANYTHING that is gifted to us by God… we should take ABSOLUTE pleasure in that! Why? BECAUSE IT IS A GIFT OF GOD."
Well, that changes everything. Christians quite often are known for being the killjoys. I believe as Christians that we should not find the meaning in the work itself but rather the gift from God that it is to work…or eat, or drink, or whatever. God has gifted us to do so many things that we take for granted. Today we should stop and take a few extra minutes before we do whatever it is that we're about to do–and thank God for the gift and ability to do it. Find meaning in God. Find meaning in the gift. "Everything is hebel" unless we realize that it is a gift of God. Then, whatever we do, we are able to do it for God's glory and experience the pleasure that God intended us to have in it.