We humans sometimes create reasons to have parties.
Every month greets us with another good excuse to have a party. January on through December contains enough of an excuse to get people together to “eat, drink, and be merry”.
But are our dancing shoes as tightly laced when we’re frustrated by something happening in our world? When we are swinging at curveballs, are we still preparing celebrations? When the news is bad, do we find any pleasure? When life is grayer than it is colorful, do we plan our parties then?
King Solomon might tell us, “You should!”
14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 8:14–15 (NIV)
Although quite “on the nose”, verse 14 merely states an observation of the evidence many of us still observe: integrity is not always complimented. How often have we witnessed those who cheat, lie, swindle, and bully actually get somewhere in life while “nice guys finish last”?
The Teacher of Ecclesiastes (King Solomon) won’t allow us to make a “Sunday School” justification out of some of life’s quandaries. Instead, he points out its meaninglessness. By calling it “meaningless”, he is saying it has no value or significance in its absurdity. It is vacuous and empty. Frustrating, but ultimately, pointless.
The way the world should work is those who are honest, hard working, and virtuous are rewarded, regarded, and elevated. Instead, we see the opposite occurs with far more frequency than we sometimes consciously admit.
But in those moments when it smacks us in the face and the injustice of it rises along with our blood pressure, remember the thrust of these two verses. Life is not fair. Obsessing over everything that happens will get us nowhere.
Have you met, seen, or been the person who gets upset over anything that diverts from what they perceive as “the way things should be”? Are they happy? Of course not. And why are they not happy? Because they haven’t learned the words of Solomon here.
No, he’s not telling us to simply “eat, drink, and be merry”. He’s not advocating a constant party where we throw caution and good sense to the wind and kick up our heels in hedonistic apathy. Nevertheless, Scripture is telling us we gain a great gift when we’re able to take these moments in stride and find pleasure in life.
Constantly obsessing over every little thing causing us grief is as pointless as the actual (big or small) injustice. While we choose our battles, we don’t let it rob the joy that is ours. We don’t allow these problems associated with life ruin us.
A dear friend of my wife and me has this gift. No matter what is going on in the world, in his job, or around him, he can relax, enjoy good food, drink, and friendship. His joy comes from a place that is untouchable by the circumstances of life.
May all those claiming Christ find their joy coming from there too.