18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
– Ecclesiastes 2:18-26
Work has always been with us. From the beginning of creation, work has been part of the equation for living (Genesis 2). While some say, there are only two unavoidable things, death and taxes, I think work could certainly be the third. On a personal note, I’ve been working for very close to 40 years, with 37 years in my current career. After so much time, I notice when my perspective is off, because work can become drudgery. Like Solomon, I’ve felt, and sometimes still do, my work as “vanity and a striving after wind.”
It seems that going to work doesn’t have the same feeling it once did. There was a time when work was enjoyable, always giving me a sense of accomplishment for things done. Now, not so much. I think, for me, I don’t realize and appreciate the result of the work I’ve done all these years. Unfortunately, my perspective has been, and sometimes still is, wrong. I’ve misplaced my appreciation, much the same as Solomon did. I’ve worked for works’ sake, thinking it should be appreciated, rather than enjoying the blessings heaped upon me. I recognize now that what I do matters and work is a grace of God.
Nevertheless, it takes time to change perspective. Rather than devoting time to being tired of work and frustrated with its seeming lack of impact, I must turn my eyes to the delight in all the blessings my work has yielded: provisions for my family, a warm home, sufficient food, transportation, missions’ trips across the world, education, and many more too numerous to list. With this positive perspective, I can begin to see I’m a contributor to a greater purpose. Take a moment or two and write down the blessings your work has provided, and find the delight in them!
By Rich Obrecht