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. Ecclesiastes 8:15
The following excerpt is from missionary Jim Elliot’s diary, dated 15 January 1951-
“I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coat tail and the heavens hailing your heart — to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!”
I think Jim captured the essence of Ecclesiastes 8:15- we are called to enjoy God and His creation. But what about the fact that sin has so tarnished this world? What about all the suffering that surrounds us? How are we to reconcile enjoying God and living in a sin-wrecked world? One of my mentors (that I studied Hebrew/Old Testament under in seminary), Dr. Gordon Johnston, explains the intent of the Teacher, the author of Ecclesiastes (also known as Qoheleth)-
“Qoheleth is not commending a self-indulgent lifestyle of Epicurean hedonism. Nor is he lamenting the absolute futility of life and the lack of eternal retribution. He is submitting to the reality that in a sin-cursed world there is much of human existence marked by relative futility. Since the righteous man cannot assume that he will automatically experience temporal prosperity and blessings on this earth, he should – at the very least – enjoy each day to its fullest as a gift from God. D. R. Glenn notes, ‘Each day’s joys should be received as gifts from God’s hands and be savored as God permits.’” (The NET Bible, p.1137)
That’s exactly what we mean when we say in our mission statement at the church where I serve as pastor: “We exist to ignite a passion in every person to glorify and enjoy God everywhere and in everything.” God made us to know Him and enjoy Him and His creation. This is only possible because of the Gospel; because of Jesus. So go ahead and enjoy your Lord today. Enjoy His creation. Enjoy a cup of Starbucks. Enjoy some pie. Enjoy a nap. Enjoy the company of friends and families. Savor all of these “graces” as God permits.
Thrilled that the God we serve is not a cosmic killjoy!