Scripture Reflections @ CEC by Cindy Graff
“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.”
Scripture & Devotion: Ecclesiastes 2:24-26
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The recipe for happiness
Eat, drink, work. Simple words, simple actions: the stuff of every day. Yet how changed even these basic aspects of life seem these days! Eating depends on trips to the supermarket, where some people wear masks but many do not, where staying at least six feet away from others means waiting in line for our turn at the carrots, where even touching the handle of a grocery cart is cause for hesitation. As for finding satisfaction in working, thousands have lost their jobs, and many of those who are still employed have converted their living rooms into office space that they share with their fidgety, school-aged children and their harried spouses who are trying to insure that the kids glean whatever formal education they can from this curtailed academic year.
In this passage of scripture, Solomon reminds us that everything we need comes from the hand of God. That is reason enough to be grateful. But what happens to our hearts when accomplishing even the simplest, most mundane tasks becomes a challenge and causes us to fear for our health and the health of those we love? Discouragement doesn’t just threaten to creep in; it confronts us head-on with every TV news broadcast, every day that prohibits us from hugging loved ones and friends, every highly-anticipated event that is cancelled or postponed. What place is there for wisdom, knowledge, and happiness when our world goes rogue?
As it turns out, every place. God’s wisdom helps us acquire resilience because we know that nothing can separate us from him and that this current era will someday pass like those that have gone before it. Knowledge about the specific nature of our situation can help us navigate as wisely as possible in these troubled waters, and knowing that God is always compassionate and trustworthy can provide tremendous comfort in days like these.
As for happiness, the fact that it comes from God is something I often forget. I tend to assume that I am in charge of my own happiness and that whether I am happy or not depends almost totally on circumstances such as the state of my health or finances or relationships with other people. This superficial kind of happiness is based on my short-sighted human perceptions about what is happening in my life; it is not the deep abiding joy that I know God wants me to experience because of my relationship with him. Happiness that comes from God is not fleeting: it has the power to present itself in all circumstances, even the ones we are undergoing at present.
As Solomon observes, whatever temporal things we seek – the wealth that we store up thinking that it will help us enjoy life, for example - will someday pass away. The only thing that does not constitute “chasing after the wind” is to please God. I believe one way we can do that is by consciously cultivating gratitude, for thankfulness can transcend any circumstance we encounter. This is the secret that Solomon knew: understanding who God is and having faith in his goodness is true wisdom, real knowledge, and the key to finding happiness.
May You bring about in us a heart that desires to please You in all we do, and continue to develop in us a gratefulness for who You are and all that You have done in and for us.