Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 - Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Sometimes when you ask someone, "How are you doing?" they'll answer you, not with a story, not with a sentence, not even with a word, but just a sound. They'll say, "'Meh." "Meh," spelled, M-E-H, a sound that has become a word. It doesn't mean sad or grief-stricken or depressed. It's just means that there's no spark, no pizazz, no joy. It's just meh.
There's a long speech in the middle of the Bible. It's called the book of Ecclesiastes. Jewish and Christian tradition accepts that the speaker was Solomon, the king in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago. I wonder how Solomon decided to give this speech. Maybe it happened after a long day of lounging in his palace, binge-watching TV on his couch, someone asked him: "Hey Solomon, how's it goin'?" And he's like, "Meh." Except his word for it would have been "hebel." Hebel is the Hebrew word for vapor. How's life? someone asks Solomon. "Vapor—vapor of vapors," he answers, "everything is vapor" (see Ecclesiastes 1:2).
In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon says that life isn't worth living unless you've been blessed with the power to enjoy it. He says, a man could live "a thousand years twice over," but if he doesn't have the power to enjoy them, what good are they? (See Ecclesiastes 6:1-6.) So, where do you get this power? Only God can occupy us with joy. God Himself is the power to enjoy. The story of Jesus we hear in the Bible is not about Him merely being a free pass to a better place. Because even if you get into that better place, how will you be able to enjoy it? No, the Bible is the story about Jesus, God's Word, God's Son become human to bring God's presence to this place, and ultimately to give us power to enjoy every place, your place, my place, right here, right now, always.
I met the young lady who became my wife when were both 19 years old. There was this charge between us, not just physical, but emotional and spiritual. We were still just friends at the time. We weren't even holding hands. We were walking side-by-side, a few feet apart, but there was this charge. Being in her presence, I lost track of time. The world around me faded into a blur and flooded with brilliant color. It was the joy of simply being with someone you love—a joy that charges the place and occupies things. This vapor of joy that momentarily occupies you in the presence of your friends and family, people you love and admire, that fleeting joy is a sign of the abiding joy you were made for, joy that comes only when you and I are occupied by the Word of God, the Son of God, the personal presence of God.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, give us grateful hearts to receive Your gifts. Give us power to enjoy them. Give us Yourself. In Jesus' name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Think about the last time you felt "meh." Can you identify the source of those feelings?
2. Read Ecclesiastes 5:13-6:12. Is there a verse that could express your own frustrations or joys in life?
3. Which devotional practices help you cultivate a sense of God's personal presence in your life?
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