Brevity of Life
By Joan Walker Hahn
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s nearing the end of another year (already?). I’m not sure of the reason, but I’ve found myself being really contemplative here lately about the brevity of life. During times of trials, time has passed slowly. But seeing my grandchildren growing like weeds, proves time is flying by.
It’s easy to become depressed when I think about how quickly time passes. I start thinking about all that I haven’t accomplished. I think about all I’d like to do but probably never will. It’s not real uplifting to dwell on all those things.
It appears the Book of Ecclesiastes contains a lot of the same type of thoughts. It starts like this:
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 (NIV)
Solomon seems to be thinking back over his life. He talks about his accomplishments, but then concludes that it’s all vanity. He talks about his vast wisdom and says it only brought him sorrow. He talks about all he has and about those he sees that have very little.
One conclusion he comes to that he repeats several times in different chapters is that a person should work at whatever task God has given them to do. He makes that statement in Ecclesiastes Chapters 2, 3 and then again in these verses in Chapter 5:
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NIV)
Solomon doesn’t deny that people have to toil and labor in this life. But he was saying that we can have happiness as a result of our toil. We ought to recognize it is God giving us the strength and the ability to do the things we do. By doing the work we have before us, we can please God and bring Him glory.
Also, when we allow ourselves to be satisfied with what we have, whether a little or a lot, that satisfaction is, in itself, a gift of God. And when we accept what God has given us, we won’t be pondering over the sadness of life, because we will instead be pondering over the blessings of God.
So do you, like me, find yourself contemplating life? It’s okay to wonder about things. It’s okay to review things in your life and even question if this is all there is. Solomon was the wisest, wealthiest man who ever lived and he did. And what did he conclude?
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NKJV)
When we have those moments of reflection in our lives, may we ponder more on His blessings and less on the struggles; more on His provisions and less on our unmet wants. May our desire be to please Him more, and in doing that, we will have a satisfied life.
Heavenly Father, sometimes it seems life is passing way too quickly. I often regret the time I’ve wasted and mourn over things not yet accomplished. Forgive me Lord, for putting such emphasis on myself. Help me to capture each moment and dedicate it to You. May I offer myself daily to serve You while there is still time. Allow me to seek that satisfaction of doing the work You have planned for me to do, and to lay aside the striving towards anything other than You, which is all vanity. I praise You, Father, for the opportunity to toil in Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For more encouragement, visit Joan at joanwalkerhahn.com.
© 2019 by Joan Walker Hahn. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Tuesday, 06 December 2022.