Finding Joy in Life

Finding Enjoyment in life.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This, too, I see, is from the hand of God.”

How do we find joy in a disjointed and broken world?  So far in our study of Ecclesiastes, Solomon has led us down a dark and foreboding path that seems hopeless.  Yet even as he challenges us to take an honest look at life, one that confronts us with all the absurdities of a fallen world, he does not lead us to despair and hopelessness.  Having shown the futility of our labors, he reminds us that we can still find enjoyment in our work.  Even though our work does not provide ultimate meaning, that does not mean that it is without purpose and merit.  Instead, we are to still recognize the gift of life and work.  Even in a fallen world, God still gives us this life to enjoy.  

When we first read verse 24, it seems that Solomon is extolling a hedonistic life of eating, drinking, and pursuing unbridled pleasure.  However, when we look closer, he points us in a different direction.  The ability to enjoy life to the fullest is a gift from God and comes only when our lives are lived out in a manner that pleases him.  Instead of seeking joy and happiness in pursuing pleasure or advancing our careers, we are to find pleasure in God and what he has given us.  Regardless of what we possess, contentment and joy come through the rich blessings God bestows upon us.  God wants us to enjoy life despite all the adverse effects of sin. Life is still a gift from God.  We are not to live in the doldrums, plodding along in despair until the joys of heaven.  We are to see the blessing of the life we have. This becomes the basis of contentment.  Genuine contentment comes when we learn to enjoy everything we already have from God rather than seeking more. The statement in verse 24, “and to tell himself that his labor is good,” literally states, “and see good in his labors.”  It should not escape our notice that the word good is the same word found in Genesis 1.  While sin has marred God’s creation, the good remains, but it must be sought after and looked for.  We need to look beyond the effects of sin and see the blessing that God has still given us despite the absurdities and inconsistencies of life. This reorientation of focus comes when we look beyond the present and see the hand of God still at work in the world and our lives.  

Solomon reminds us that if we are not finding joy in life, the problem is not our lack of pleasures, possessions, or success. He has already shown us that these things are unnecessary. Instead, the problem is our focus. When we focus on God, trust in him, and live by his word, we find complete joy in everything.  Paul points us in the same direction: "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Paul reminds us that our success and joy in life are not driven by our circumstances but by our awareness of God’s work and supply. When God is our focus, we can genuinely find joy and happiness in a fallen world.  

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