A Note Of Joy
A daily devotion for February 5th
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king's successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise man has eyes in his head,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I thought in my heart,
"The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?"
I said in my heart,
"This too is meaningless."
16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 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, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness (Ecclesiastes 2:24b-26a)
The true message of this book is that enjoyment is a gift of God. There is nothing in possessions, in material goods, in money; there is nothing in people themselves that can enable them to keep enjoying the things they do. But it is possible to have enjoyment all your life if you take it from the hand of God. It is given to those who please God.
Wisdom and knowledge have been mentioned before as things you can get from
under the sun, but they will not continue. To have added to them the ingredient of pleasure, of continual delight unceasing throughout the whole of life, you must take it from the hand of God. The person who pleases God is given the gift of joy.
It is wonderful to realize that this book teaches us that God wants us to have joy. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul said,
[He] richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). It is God's desire and intent that all the good things of life that are mentioned here should contribute to people's enjoyment; but only, says this Searcher, if you understand that enjoyment does not come from things or people. It is an added gift of God, and only those who please God can find it.
How do you please God? In many places in Scripture we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. It is faith that pleases Him, belief that He is there and that everything in life comes from His hand. Underscore in your minds the word all. Pain, sorrow, bereavement, disappointment, as well as gladness, happiness, and joy—all these things are gifts of God. When we see life in those terms, any and every element of life can have its measure of joy—even sorrow, pain, and grief. These things were given to us to enjoy.
This is also the message of Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. It is also the message of Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Father, all things come from Your hands. I thank You that You sent Your Son that I might have Your joy within me.
Life Application: Shall we choose to live each day as grateful receivers, acknowledging every good gift as God's provision? Have we seen His intent for joy in all we experience?
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