Day 22

18 This is the one good thing I’ve seen: it’s appropriate for people to eat, drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work under the sun during the brief lifetime that God gives them because that’s their lot in life. 19 Also, whenever God gives people wealth and riches and enables them to enjoy it, to accept their place in the world and to find pleasure in their hard work—all this is God’s gift. 20 Indeed, people shouldn’t brood too much over the days of their lives because God gives an answer in their hearts’ joy.  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, CEB

I’m not sure exactly what these verses mean.  Ecclesiastes is quick to remind us that chasing money is pretty meaningless- another example “chasing the wind”.  Yet it says that wealth and riches are free to be enjoyed.  

I think the key to reading this book well is to always keep the emphasis on the proper syllable.  The point is not for us to place all of life’s meaning in chasing money.  The point is accept or embrace whatever our “lot in life” is and to take it at face value…to find meaning and joy in whatever circumstances we have (and we should make efforts to be responsible with whatever we have too, of course, these verses just don’t make that particular point).  Now, granted, this isn’t saying that suffering doesn’t exist and that we need to ignore it and/or replace it with fake happiness.  It’s just saying that no matter what your lot in life is, there are meaningful and valuable aspects.  

These verses seem to say something like:  The life you have (in general) is one God has given and, because of that, there’s something there to appreciate.  We don’t want to push this philosophy too hard because it’s just one idea among many (and it doesn’t need to be our only philosophy), and couldn’t hold up against too much scrutiny.  It’s just one way of encouraging us not to compare our lives to the lives of others and to find joy in whatever life we have.  Nothing more, nothing less.  


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