Solomon wasn’t exactly a cheery person. He didn’t always see things from a “glass half full” perspective. In Ecclesiastes he spends lots of time talking about how meaningless life is.
But this paragraph is chapter five gives us some good advice:
Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.
Even though it’s still said with a bit of dismay — “tha’s about it…. that’s the human lot,” what he has to say makes a lot of sense. Let’s break it down:
- Take care of yourself. Mentally, physically, spiritually — it’s ok to focus on these things because if you don’t you can’t take care of anyone else.
- Have a good time. I like it that Scripture tells us to have fun! Christians sometimes forget that laughter and the ability to enjoy one another was one of God’s ideas.
- Make the most of whatever job you have. Find ways to be your best self and bring all of who you are to the table to do the work God has given you.
- Make the most of the bounty God gives and our capacity to enjoy it. God gives us so many gifts …. we need to increase our capacity to recognize these things, to accept them, and to enjoy them.
- Delight in your work and see it as God’s gift. Of the 168 hours in a week, most of us work 40 of them. That’s 25% of all of our time …. and if you sleep 8 hours a night, then it’s 35% of our waking hours. If your job is a drudgery, that’s a lot of life to waste! Find ways to see your job as God’s gift and to delight in it.
What a great formula for the coming year: Take care of yourself, have fun, make the most of your job, and recognize, accept and enjoy the bounty God has given. My guess is that living this way will allow God to "deal out joy in the present", every day of 2018.