Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 NIV
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 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. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night, their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 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, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner, he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Do you see work as a gift from God, drudgery, or both?
There was a time in my life when climbing that corporate ladder was what was most important to me. I poured my effort and skill into my career where it had taken priority in my life. It became my identity. I was seriously stressed and obsessed with my work because it was who I was. It became an overwhelming weight on me that I couldn’t sustain. That changed when in my desperation I re-committed my life to You and opened my heart to Your Spirit. You changed my mode of operation from being career-driven to being people-driven. Although I continued to pour out my heart into my job, I was more focused on helping other people achieve success and it was very fulfilling to see people learn and grow. I worked through people to accomplished the corporate goals, but I still hung on to my work identity. Then the day came when I lost my job. All those hours, all that dedication, all that passion blew away in the wind and I was left not knowing who I was. But You were there with me and transformed me to be God-driven. From You, I have learned that working is a gift. It not only provides for my financial needs but I find satisfaction in continuing to learn new things, by utilizing my skills to add value for my employer and to contribute alongside fellow workers. I have learned to be a good steward with the results of my labor and to be generous with my finances, my time, and all that You have given me by creating balance in my life. My job is not who I am. I am a child of God and my identity is now in You. Your Word gives me guidance to do my work with honesty, integrity, and honor. I want to please You in whatever I do. It doesn’t matter what the job that I am tasked with, I commit it to You. Let me find joy in what I am doing in all aspects of my life and do it well. Guide me to be an example of Your love at work, at home, at church, in public, and in private. You are my source of wisdom, knowledge, and happiness. In work, in retirement, in play, or anything I do in life, let my fulfillment come from You. Use what You have given me for Your glory. Amen