ECCLESIASTES 5:17-19: “Behold, this is what I myself have seen. It is beneficial and good for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy all of his toil that he labors under the sun during the few days of his life that God has given him—for this is his reward. Additionally, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, and empowers him to eat from it, to receive his share, and to rejoice in his labor—this is a gift of God. For he will not often consider the days of his life, since God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.” TLV
OBSERVATION: Is my life filled with joy? Am I daily rejoicing in my labor, the work that God has given me to do on this earth? Or, do I start each day with a grumble, always looking for the next opportunity, the next open door of escape?
Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. He was also the richest man that ever lived. There was nothing he could not do, buy, or accomplish. In the world’s standards he had it made. Yet, in the book of Ecclesiastes he laments that everything he had accomplished, everything he had experienced, was filled with emptiness and was void of true meaning. If this is the case for Solomon, what hope do we have?
These closing verses in chapter 5 are a recurring theme throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon sees that the true blessing in life is not in what we may acquire, but what we already hold in our hand. It is not in the job we dream of, but in the job we already have. We will never find fulfillment and joy if we are always looking at what we don’t have and never enjoying what we do have.
I have been a bi-vocational pastor all my life. During all of this time I have worked primarily for one company. It is hard to believe that I have almost been with that company for 40 years. And, to be honest, I did not live with a spirit of joy and fulfillment all of these years. There were times I wondered why I wasn’t able to be in the ministry full time. There were times that I tried to look for another job. In all of these efforts the Lord closed the door. And I did not receive this very well – at first.
Age has a wonderful blessing within it. It is the blessing of perspective. Over the past many years I have learned how to rest in the place God has placed me. I have stopped striving for what I thought I needed and engaged in what the Lord has placed in my hand. And I discovered something wonderful – joy! Yes, joy in both of my jobs. Joy in my role as a pastor, and joy in my secular job. I have found the words of Solomon to be true,
- “…this is a gift of God. For he will not often consider the days of his life, since God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.”
To my surprise the days, months, and the years truly have flown by. They have not been filled with a struggling or striving. They have been filled with a joyous occupation of the gift that God has given me. The job that I struggled with has actually become the very job that has allowed me to do all the things that the Lord has called me to do. Without this job I could not fulfill the work of God that he has placed in my hand.
I have seen another wonderful truth. As I look back over the years that I have both pastored and worked at my job, I see that the Lord has enabled me to help people in both fields. I was not just selling products in my other job, I was investing in people, helping to save marriages, and creating jobs that are now supporting families. My perspective has changed – and so has my joy.
What would happen if we really learned this secret early in life. One of the responsibilities of age is to call out to those younger with words of wisdom and warning. If we heed wisdom and warning one does not have to repeat the mistakes that I made in my life. This is the prayer of my heart. I have found that there is joy in life when we engage what the Lord has placed in our hands. If there is a new door that needs to be opened, He will do it. Yet, in the meantime, we can walk in the joy of knowing we are fulfilling His plan and calling for our life!
Lord, thank You for closing doors in my life that You knew would lead me away from the joy that You have set before me. Help me to engage the work that You have called me to do with great joy. Thank You for Your faithful provisions and blessings in my life.
In Jesus Name!