Ecclesiastes takes us on a quest to figure out the key to life: What is life about? What are we doing here? Where can satisfaction be found? And one of the conclusions of the book is that mankind cannot figure out the key to life! It is a quest we are all on, and yet no one can find a satisfying solution. “…man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out” (8:17).
And yet this does not mean there is no satisfying and joy-filled way to live life—there is, but it just isn’t found where we think it is. Ecclesiastes (and the Bible) is clear that joy and satisfaction and meaning will not be found in our attempts to control life, to figure out life, to use our minds, morals or money to engineer life to our own ends.
No! Joy and satisfaction and meaning will be found in trusting in the sovereignty of God, and resting in the approval of God. In accepting our limits and weaknesses and insufficiencies and inabilities, and throwing ourselves on God to be enough.
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
Do you see the logic of this verse? The ability to live with joy and gladness is somehow dependent on having and knowing and resting in the approval, or favor, of God. If we knew that God was FOR us and WITH us; that we were loved and approved and delighted in; known at the deepest level, and yet still loved; and that this was not because anything we had done or will do, but because of what God has done in Jesus, then we would no longer have to prove our existence, continue to solidify our identity and worth (which is exhausting), strive to find meaning and satisfaction in everything and everyone.
As commentator David Gibson says,
“…in the created world, you can only truly enjoy what you do not worship…. When you worship God’s gifts, they will never ever deliver what they promise and instead will leave you empty and broken.”
This is the case with everything except the worship of God, the one thing—being—we were created to worship, and who is fully deserving of our worship. In the worship of God—characterized by faith, trust, rest, love and obedience—we are set free and empowered to “rejoice always,” even in the everyday areas of life such as eating, drinking, marriage, family, work, relationships, church, leisure, and more.