Gladness and Work

Written by: Eric Smith
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

Everyone looks back at their lives, but for some it is a vortex, or an obsession that prevents them for appreciating what is before them. It becomes an  loop that’s hard to break out of, making it difficult to find satisfaction in the present and deadens hope for the future.

This Scripture helps those willing to see it, that it’s God’s blessing that enables people to be glad with whatever their lot in life happens to be.

The Challenge
Polls show that lower than half of employees feel satisfied by what they do for a living.  For me, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.  I’ve felt satisfied at times, but for a large part of my career, I’ve felt very dissatisfied.  There’s a saying that “you don’t know what you had until you lose it”.  Well, when I lost my job last year after 15 years with the company, I had plenty of time to reflect.  Funny thing is, I couldn’t figure any way that the unsatisfying parts could have been made better.  I remember trying my best to have a professional attitude and not let my performance slip despite how I felt.  Yet, no matter what I did, I could not change how I felt and the impact it had on me.
The Response
The passage above made it clear that to be happy in my work does not come from me, but is a gift of God.  Nothing I could do could change how I felt.  I’ve heard that “Happiness is just a decision” – but this Scripture says otherwise – at least in this context.  Instead of asking God to change my situation, (although that is certainly the need at times) I should pray for God to enable me to be happy with whatever my work or situation happens to be.  As it is, God has since blessed me in these ways before knowing this.  Now that’s grace!
Questions to think about:
  1. Where is your satisfaction level right now for the job/career God has you in?
  2. Consider how our lot in life matches up in Romans 8:28.  How does toilsome labor fit in with being something good from God?  Is a shift in perspective needed?  If so, what is it?
  3. Have you prayed to God for the gift of enjoying your labor?

Challenge: Pray to God to enjoy your “lot” whatever it may be right now.

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