Life is challenging. It is difficult. It is uncertain. It is stressful.
All of this is true, but it’s not the conclusion. The summary at the end of the day, week, or year is supposed to read quite differently: “It is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome work…Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them…and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).
Our relationship with God opens the door for us to enjoy our work and lives. This kind of enjoyment is not some future “retirement enjoyment.” It is present tense, as in this year, this month – even today!
Solomon is absolutely focused on this throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes. He probably needs to say it over and over because we might not otherwise believe that he really means it. In the middle of all the stresses and strains of life – especially the strains and stresses in our lives at work – he says we are to experience joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. A lack of those characteristics indicates that we lack a relationship with God compared to where He is calling us to be. After all, such great things only come as a gift from God. Many of us don’t do very well with this. It almost seems as if we didn’t get the memo that declares followers of Christ have the freedom to enjoy their work and their lives.
Of course, the enjoyment that Solomon talks about is not a “God-will-make-life-perfect” kind of joy. He makes it very clear that life will not be perfect. I have been doing life with many of you at Simmons long enough to understand that everyone has something going on; whether it be grief and loss, challenges in relationships, health concerns, or situations at work. But even in the middle of the stress and strain, a man or woman with a relationship with God receives the unbelievable gift of enjoyment, meaning and fulfillment in life.