We Need Not Despair
“So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation.Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 2:20-23
Our reading today finds Solomon lamenting over the toil of his labor. He talks about working hard, using his knowledge and wisdom in pursuit of his vocation and then, upon passing, someone else enjoying the fruit of this labor. Who of us hasn’t in some way felt the sting of Solomon’s words? Each of us has invested in someone or something only to find, either by actions, attitudes or articulations, that our best just wasn’t good enough. How many have come to a place where we’ve invested our all only to be left feeling unfilled and dejected. I’ve known of one such individual who had his own Solomon experience.
He’s a man known to my husband and me. He had been one who could commandeer an audience with his explicit storytelling, engaging demeanor and tales of exploits that crossed continents. We were taken by surprise when during a social event, he withdrew from the crowds and in a brief and uncharacteristic somber conversation, revealed to us the torment of his soul.
His job necessitated him traveling much of the year with some of the trips keeping him from home for successive weeks. When his children entered college, he realized he really didn’t know them, describing them as strangers. During his decades of travel, his wife filled her time nurturing the family, developing friendships and supporting the community in volunteerism. As his work schedule diminished, he found it difficult to find his place in her life. The normal twinkle that characterized his smiling eyes, was gone. Remorse hung heavy on his face as he shared his heart and pain. He spoke of regret over the futility of his labor and told of his desire to have chosen differently. The drive home was quiet as my husband and I absorbed the magnitude of his disclosure and felt the enormity of his sorrow.
Whether we find ourselves looking forward with most of life before us, or we are reviewing our life history and heading into the golden years, it is never too late to consider Solomon’s words. For those of us who may be living with regret, we need not despair. The Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15 serves to remind us that it is never too late to return to God and redefine our lives in Him. As we submit ourselves to Jesus and allow Him to redeem the years the locusts have eaten, He will restore and renew our lives. As we submit ourselves afresh to Him, we can trust God to show us how to live lives filled with meaning and purpose.
Let’s talk: Are you despairing over all the toil of your labors under the sun? Are you willing to commit it all to Jesus and wait for Him to redeem your situation and restore your life in conformity to His will? May we support you in prayer as you trust God to redefine your life in Christ? We’d love to have you share how God restored meaning and purpose to your life.
Did you miss Monday’s post? View it here!