Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 - What does a worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is a gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
This passage stood out in my mind as I read through Ecclesiastes this morning. The sentences seem disconnected… what is the connection between toil, burden, beautiful, and eternity? It seems an unlikely list. God has laid a burden on men, the burden of work, toilsome labor. When Adam and Eve sinned part of the curse was that their work would be difficult; thorns and weeds and hard ground became a part of their lives. But next Solomon says. He has made everything beautiful in its time. What could possibly be beautiful about toilsome labor? Remember that God gave work to Adam at the very beginning, even before the fall. So work itself was not part of the curse. Think about something you have worked hard on. What did you feel at the end? Satisfaction comes at the end of hard work, of a job well done. The more difficult the task, the more satisfying the end is. It is truly a beautiful thing. My journey to black belt was difficult, many hours of hard training, bruises, sweat, and even a few tears along the way (I am a woman so I can admit to that!). Yet that test still brings me great satisfaction.
So these sentences do make sense. But there is a statement in the middle of the passage that really sticks with me. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. God created us in His own image, and He is eternal. We are also eternal, our souls will exist forever; yet even with eternity in our hearts we cannot ever completely understand all that God has done. And some men never understand any of what God has done… they never believe in Him, though they are made in His image. God gave us life, joy, and satisfaction to point us to Him, to connect the eternity in our hearts with Him forever. Don’t despise the gifts or the Giver, revere Him and seek Him and be saved.