My title today is a quote from our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was well known for his joie de vivre ‘exuberant enjoyment of life’. I’m tempted to think he might have had a premonition of the impact of our social media landscape and the inevitable and damaging comparisons it has brought into our culture. But comparisons are not new. Here are the observations and advice of Solomon, the ancient Jewish King, recorded in Ecclesiastes 8.
There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. (vv. 14-15 NIV)
Grumbling about evil in the world around us, complaining, comparing – ‘woe is me’ ‘why me,’ and reminiscing about the good old days being dramatically better than today. All these strategies – or I should call them bad habits – erode our ability to cherish and celebrate the gifts God gives each day.
Here’s another ancient insight from the Apostle Paul who became well known for the intense persecution he suffered.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)
Anytime an economic downturn, like the one we are now experiencing, begins to pick up a head of steam, it’s tempting to abandon legitimate celebration. Both Solomon and Paul point out that some circumstances are beyond our control, and injustice and wickedness are unfortunate features of life in this broken world. So I encourage you to meditate on the strategies employed by these Biblical sages.
Look at your surroundings and ask God to reveal to you something special he has given you to enjoy right now. Invite friends and family members to share what you’ve got while you’ve got it. Read all of Ecclesiastes 8 if you have time. Remind yourself that Jesus is your king. You have his wisdom at your fingertips and can daily celebrate his coming kingdom no matter your circumstances.