“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? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy… Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”
(Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 5:18-20)
Being miserable in this life is not an option. Not for a true child of God anyway. Not for “one who pleases Him.” Why not?
Because God has given us a rich treasure of joy! He wants us to be filled with His joy every single moment of our lives here on earth.
Hold on a moment. I didn’t say He wants us to be happy. That’s not the same thing. Happiness is dependent merely upon circumstances; joy is dependent upon the One who is sovereign over all those circumstances.
And He wants us to be filled with joy, by being wholly focused on Himself. Solomon, the human writer of Ecclesiastes (though the Holy Spirit actually authored the words), was perhaps the wisest man to ever live on this earth. And he realized, in all his knowledge and understanding, that it was utterly meaningless (literally, vanity) to remain miserable in this lifetime. In other words, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do, so you might as well enjoy it!
But there is a word of caution here as well. Enjoyment is not an end in itself. We are not to seek it out for the sole purpose of finding pleasure. Rather, we are to find it as a byproduct of pleasing God. Of communing with Him. Of keeping ourselves pure in His sight. Of knowing Him intimately. Then, we are told, we will receive the gifts of wisdom and knowledge and joy from His very hand. Then He will keep our hearts (and our minds) occupied with joy.
For, apart from God, who is able to have true joy? Yet, with God, we must have that lasting and overwhelming joy. Yet, in God, we must find true joy.
“And I commend joy, for man has no good thing 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).
“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart… Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
(Psalm 32:11; Philippians 4:4)