Being Busy with the Joy of our Heart

“For there is not much that he will remember of the days of his life; for God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:19 {5:20 in English Bibles})

There is some debate in terms of how to interpret the first line in this verse. Some commentators suggest that what the person is remembering is that the days of his life are limited and “not many” — thus he will enjoy them. Others suggest that of the days of his life, there will be not much that is remembered. In the end, the same counsel is received: enjoy the lot that God has given you during the time you have it. Further, in the scope of eternity, however many days we are given are short, plus we will not remember everything. One of the interesting things about the way that God has made us is that oftentimes, as time distances us from times of trauma, we remember the traumatic aspects less and less. I recall the pain an suffering my wife went through with the birth of our first child, but gratefully as time passed, her memory of that pain dulled which was certainly a blessing as we moved toward the birth of our second child.

Solomon also affirms a principle that God will keep us busy with the joy of our heart. This may seem a bit odd in the context of what Solomon has been reflecting upon unless you remember that for Solomon, the ultimate joy and good for us is found in spiritual and earthly things. The first lasts and the other passes away; the first is eternal and there are seasons that govern the other. The study of God’s word, the pursuit of God in prayer, and the living of a life marked by good works — there is a joy in these things that will indeed keep our heart occupied even in the most challenging and discouraging of times. God is gracious with these things and in this way, he draws his wayward children back into the way that honors Him. May we all indeed find our joy in the things of God. As the old gospel refrain goes:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face,

and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.”

— Helen Lemmel

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