I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.Ecclesiastes 6:1-2
Immediately, the Searcher recognizes that to have abundance and possessions--all that money can buy--and yet lack the power to enjoy them is a heavy burden to bear. Many people suffer from this. They drive shiny new cars and own the latest electronic equipment in their big luxurious homes. They are trying desperately to enjoy these things, yet their faces have a hollowness about them; their eyes betray an emptiness inside. Observe the jaded lives of those who have everything but cannot enjoy anything they have.
Furthermore, the Searcher says, material wealth and abundance can be frustrating: imagine a stranger enjoying what you cannot enjoy. Can there be anything more frustrating than getting something you always wanted to have and then discovering that it has lost its luster; you no longer enjoy it so you pass it on to somebody else who cannot afford it, and that person enjoys it immensely? That would make one frustrated, even resentful:
Why couldn't I enjoy it? that person would be entitled to ask.
The key to all of this is in the words
God does not enable him to enjoy them. That lesson is pounded home to our hearts over and over again throughout this book. Enjoyment does not reside in increased possessions; it is a gift that God must give. If He withholds it, no amount of effort is going to extract enjoyment from things. That is a difficult lesson for some to learn. Enjoyment is a gift of God.
How contrary this is to the spirit of our age! Shouted at us on every side today is the philosophy that we have a right to things. Advertisers hold up some alluring object that they want you to buy and accompany it with a propaganda line that says, in one way or another,
You deserve this. That is the spirit of our age. Do we realize that this spirit contradicts the teaching that the Bible sets forth about our relationship to God? How can we have gratitude if we are only getting what we deserve? Gratitude only comes when we feel we do not deserve something, but we get it anyway.
All through the Scriptures we are told that the proper relationship of a believer to God, and that which pleases Him, is to give thanks for everything:
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This book of wisdom exhorts us to receive everything with a grateful heart, realizing that we do not have it coming; it is a gift of God. Even if it is painful for the moment, there is a wise Father who has chosen it for you, and it will yield to you great and rich benefits. You can be grateful for the pain as well as the pleasure; that is the lesson of this book.
Lord. I have tasted the frustration of living for things that in the end do not fill me with joy but deprive me of it. Teach me to live gratefully, even when life is painful, knowing that You are still in charge and working out Your purpose in my life.
Experiencing joy certainly pleases us. Faith and obedience based on faith is what pleases God. Have we assimilated where the enabling power to enjoy originates?