What Makes Life Worth Living?
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”
What matters most? Where does joy and happiness come from? What lasts? What makes life worth living? Solomon was struggling to find the meaning of life, and so he begins this experiment of trying all kinds of different things that men value to see if he can find true satisfaction in them.
He begins with wisdom and knowledge and concludes that these lead to more questions and more frustrations because not everything has an answer. Then he tries all kinds of pleasure, but saw that these leave you empty and longing for more. Next he throws himself into work and once again sees the emptiness in working hard only to leave all that he has accomplished to someone who comes after him. Someone who may be less qualified, less hard working, and less thankful or caring.
I can’t help but think of all the high rolling people who are a part of the Hollywood scene. Doesn’t it appear that they are constantly looking for that more lavished lifestyle? One mansion is no longer enough, a garage filled with 10 exotic cars needs an 11th. Five million dollars per movie now needs to be 12 million.
While it’s easy to point fingers none of us are off the hook here. We do the same thing on a smaller scale. How quickly do new clothes seem old and unsuitable? How fleeting is that new car feel and smell? And once we’re settled into a new home our old furniture and appliances don’t seem good enough. Many move from state to state, leaving friends, family, and church in pursuit of a bigger home or more money. And when we get what we want we quickly learn that the happiness and satisfaction it promised is very short-lived and not what we were truly seeking. John A. James called all these worldly things and pursuits “beautiful bubbles”. They are fragile and fleeting.
While Ecclesiastes is a somber book, it does have moments of sunshine. And our verses for today reveal some of this warm light.
We can find enjoyment and satisfaction in the things we have, the work we do, and the experiences we get to be involved in if we fear the Lord and see his hand in all things.
This means we need to learn to trace all that we have back to the author of our life. God gives the job, He gives the success, He gives the creativity, He gives the wealth. The creator of life made our children and placed them in our families. The piles of laundry show us God’s generosity, and the dishes all over our counters remind us of God’s daily provision. They are the “product of his creative power” and “the gifts of his providential bounty to us” (Matthew Henry). Seeing God as provider of all things and purpose behind all things moves us to live thankful, joyful, and meaningful lives.
Even in our hard circumstances we see the hand of God. He uses difficulty to strengthen and change us. He uses trials to bring to light what we really believe about Him, and through difficulty and loss we learn that there is only one God who can help, provide, and fill our hearts with gladness and joy.
When we begin to trace all things back to God, we will see that our satisfaction must be found in him alone, so that no matter what happens to our stuff, our work, our health, or our experiences we can find fulfillment and joy because we have God and in Him we have everything that makes life worth living.
Let’s talk: How has God used a difficulty in your life to bring you closer to Him?
Looking to Jesus,
Did you miss Wednesday’s post? View it here!