by David Thompson
Today's passage reminds me of the annual ritual my dad had in planting a big garden. I can remember weeding all of the rows of beans, corn and tomatoes. It seemed never ending and as the passage says, "...because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me." Three months of work for a month of harvest. I must admit that I loved taking a salt shaker out in the garden and picking a fresh tomato right off the vine. I would take a first bite and then would apply the salt and take a few more bites. Even though I did like that harvest month, unlike the author of our passage, I did get benefit.
The author of Ecclesiastes states after the verse above that, "All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless."
It too would really be meaningless to me, a kid toiling under the hot July sun, if my parents would have moved the family away before that harvest month. I am sure that I would have grumbled about it. The same could be said for all of the vines and trees we had on the property. My father would faithfully prune the pear, apple, and plum trees. Likewise he would prune the grape vines just so. Once again our author continues his analogy by saying the toil was meaningless for my dad if he left the garden and orchard before harvest. He especially would have been disappointed if new occupants didn't continue the work of plowing, cultivating, planting and pruning.
You see our scripture today challenges us to look at what we toil at and consider what motivates us. The fulfilled person is one that doesn't always hate the preparatory work. As a matter of fact, a happy, fulfilled person is more likely the one who is fulfilled by the work. I think of witnessing to others that I discussed in last month's devotional. Many times someone other than me had shared with the person, then I shared with him or her, but no commitment was seen. I could get pretty discouraged, but I didn't as I knew that salvation is a path. Perhaps I played a small part in an ultimate decision for the Lord. I had to be satisfied with the effort knowing God is in control through His Holy Spirit and trust if salvation is meant to be, that it may take ten, twenty or more times to see results. Each Christian sharing our faith can continuously move a person into beginning a relationship with God.
The passage shows us that we should be happy with our efforts even if someone else sees that harvest. We can find enjoyment knowing that we are in the will of God.
Dear God, we know that Solomon wrote this book, and we all consider him amazing. He obviously was not having a good day the day he wrote Chapter 2. It's OK to have a bad day, but help us remember vs. 24-25, "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Help us to hold firmly to the belief that all we do is from the hand of God. In so doing, we can eat and drink and find satisfaction with our toil, our giving to the church and our witnessing to non-believers.