Rejoicing in the everyday

Rejoicing in the everyday

The world is a messy, and often wicked, place. Just turn on the news. They never have to cancel investigative shows that reveal injustice because there is so much around. That’s nothing new. The Teacher of Ecclesiastes noted the same kind of things around 3000 years ago. In Ecclesiastes 8, he noted that governments can be wicked or wise, yet they cannot predict the future. Wickedness is too deep to govern out of existence, and society too often values the wrong things. Good people don’t always have good outcomes in this life.

In the middle of all this negativity, we come across these words in Ecclesiastes 8:

And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun. (Eccl. 8:15 ESV)

The message is that believers don’t need to be overwhelmed by the problems of life and the uncertainty of the future under the sun. No, there are good gifts that God gives us every day. Much of the time we don’t see them as gifts or thank God for them, but God is exceedingly kind to us. We have food and drink, work to do, and those should be used well and rejoiced in. We must not always wallow in the evil in this world; there is much to rejoice in day by day.

When we stop and thank God for our lunch tomorrow, we are acknowledging that this everyday provision is a gift from God. When we thank God for a day’s work as we drive home, we are choosing to be thankful and not overwhelmed. God gives us many good things if only we would notice them.

It is too easy to become bitter and be the kind of person who complains a lot. You’ve probably met people like that. Everything is bad. The world is all wrong in every way. Work is always difficult, and family is always impossible. That kind of mindset is destructive not only for the one who holds it but for everyone they meet. It ignores God’s good gifts and only sees the problems in the world; that is not going to lead to contentment. It will only make you angrier and more bitter as life goes on.

Don’t hear this wrongly: I don’t mean we have to ignore the problems we see in the world. They do exist. The Teacher of Ecclesiastes notes them well. And after noting them, he says that we can still rejoice in the good gifts God gives. Even among the messiness and uncertainty and wickedness. It is similar to the advice Paul gives in Phil 4:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil. 4:8 ESV)

If we can be thankful even in the gloom of what the news tells us, we may end up with opportunities to speak about why we feel that way. We might be able to express our confidence in the one who gives good gifts now, and who has acted to deal with the messiness and wickedness of the world in a deep and lasting way.

Thank God for the little things. It may well be contagious.