15And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 8:15 ESV)
After opining on the meaninglessness, trouble, and injustices of life, King Solomon has some advice for us in today’s passage. He commends joy. The word “commend” means “to present or suggest; to recommend”. The response King Solomon gives to all that goes on around us is to be joyful.
There is nothing better for man to do on earth (under the sun) but to eat and drink and be joyful. This advice is not meant to be anesthetic that makes us numb to the harsh realities of life. We are not to stick our head in the sand and ignore the injustice, poverty, and pain that exists in our world. That is not what God is saying here.
But rather, in spite of all this we are to be joyful, knowing that God is in control of this world and, as Solomon has pointed out more than once, those who do evil will not get away with it in eternity [Ecclesiastes 8:13, Proverbs 11:21]. Things may be tough now for us and for others. But it will not always be that way.
There are a lot of bad things in this world. But worrying about them won’t change them. Nor will it bring us any joy. It’s not our job to worry and fret. It is God’s job to manage the world. When we worry and fret over what is going on on this planet we are usurping God’s responsibilities. We are in essence saying that God is unwilling and/or unable to deal with them.
Enjoyment does not come from happy, pleasant circumstances, where everything is going the way we like it. Enjoyment is a gift of God which and can exist even in the most difficult and trying circumstances
We can’t change the past. We don’t know what the future holds. All we can do is live in the present. And we can choose to live in the present while trusting God to take care of us – even using negative experiences to shape us and grow us.
There are a couple of reasons why we should choose joy. First, God wants us to be joyful and commands us to be so [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. But second, joy will go with us in all our toil through the days of our life. When we chose joy over misery we make the rest of our lives easier and more pleasant.
Considering all that life throws at us – much of it not good – why make it worse by letting it all make us miserable? Instead we should enjoy the good things life has to offer. For sure there are difficulties in life. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy being alive. Despite those things we don’t have to be distressed.
We should enjoy our favorite foods. We should enjoy playing or watching sports. We should enjoy music and whatever else bring us pleasure. We should enjoy our spouses and kids.
Life is a gift from God. And He commands us to make the most of it.
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