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Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

I found myself searching my list of joy verses in the section known as Wisdom Literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). Sometimes they are referred to as poetry, as in the song we teach at our school so the students can memorize the books of the Bible. Specifically I skimmed the last two, because I’m rather blue today. I knew that in Song of Solomon there is a verse about love being as strong as death, and I wondered if it was one of my joy verses (it’s not). Why such a melancholy inspiration today? I learned of a colleague of mine, a fellow Director of Christian Education, who is dying. Truth be told I have never met her, but our circle is not large and many whom I know and love also know and love her. And whenever I learn of someone entering into hospice care, it automatically takes me back.

So then my eyes moved farther up the list, to Ecclesiastes – the book that is famous for the Teacher who calls everything meaningless. It feels like a meaningless kind of day today. Sort of gloomy, sort of doomy. But then what do I find? This passage that ties in so perfectly to what I wrote yesterday. Not a coincidence, is it?

Work and toil is a gift from God. And in the middle of this passage about that, we find “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” These verses follow quickly on the heels of the most famous Ecclesiastes passage, immortalized by the Byrds in song (and if you didn’t know it came from Scripture, you’re welcome). I love knowing that the God who created the universe and set it into motion also works in our lives to cause things to happen at the perfect time. And in the meantime, we have work to do. It’s how we pass the hours in between all of the major events. And moreover, God has called us to be joyful and take pleasure in the work we have. Mary Poppins wasn’t the first to declare that “in every job that must be done there is an element of fun!” It came from God first.

And what joy there is in knowing God intends us to find joy in our daily tasks. As much as I hate to take the time to clean off my desk, I love seeing it nice and clean. Time to get cracking!

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