God Is In Charge
Context is king in Ecclesiastes. Without it, scriptures like the one I am about to quote can lead us down a very unhealthy path. King Solomon is thought to be the author of Ecclesiastes as he shares his wisdom and the deep sorrows life can bring. Death is a hard reality for people to understand, and Ecclesiastes covers death and how it can give us purpose and joy instead of filling us with fear. Solomon leads his listeners to love and peace in this hard life.
8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain[b] life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,[c] for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Life is a gift given by God. He sets our time and puts us in this place for His plan. He delights in our joy and wants to give us fullness of life. Our tendency is to avoid pain as a way to find happiness. In reality, happiness comes through the perspectives we hold and perseverance through trials to find a reward. God gives us good work to provide bread and wine. Quite the diet by today’s standards, but still a blessing to a hurting soul.
Bread And Wine
These two items have been significant in the lives of all Christians as a reminder of our God’s sacrifice for us. In this scripture, we find Solomon hinting at Christ’s sacrifice for our freedom. Through post-crucifixion eyes, this scripture gives joy in the midst of pain. We are free to praise God for his broken body and happily accept His blood as your forgiveness of sins. The sacrifice is not somber, but joyful. While we sympathize with the loss and pain, we can rejoice in His ability to draw us close to Himself. Through Christ’s power, we can rejoice in sacrifice for a better life.
Loss and Pain
It can be difficult to persevere through loss and pain, let alone find joy in the midst. Growth has been a major indicator of happiness in my life. I can find joy when I see results from my laboring and find new strength in my body, yet the beginning of the process does not yield results. How do we overcome the fear and frustrations of new starts without knowing if they will lead to joy?
We must have faith that God can create joy from any situation.
Time after time, story after story, and scripture after scripture, God comes through. We may try to normalize or demote our situation and standing, but God still has a plan and a purpose for us. Our stories are ones of faith and life created by the God who loves us. It takes courage to act on faith, but we must remind ourselves of the people before us who were just as normal as us. God intervened and created a beautiful story from their mundane lives, and He will do the same for me and you.