What do you get out of this life? - 22 November 2023
By Ewald Schmidt
This must be one of the oldest questions in human existence: what is in it for me? Why do I do what I do? What gets me going in the morning, to do my daily work with joy?
The book of Ecclesiastes explores the human experience of life in all its different facets. Humanity is a peculiar species for the writer. We all are trying to survive. We all do a lot of different things, some good, some more on the dark side. We try to make the best of every opportunity that crosses our path.
From the beginning, we have the ability to choose. When we are going to school, we have a choice: do I make the best use of the opportunity to gain knowledge? Am I going to treat my books with respect and learn as much as I can, or are you rather going to focus on extracurricular activities? Are the sport and the lunch breaks going to be your highlights every day? As the end of your school phase approaches, even more serious choices lay in waiting. Which career will suit you best? How will you earn your daily bread? How are you going to earn what you need to cover your living expenses? Our career choice leads us on a path. Some go to get on-the-job training, others join the uniform branches. Some go to university or college to get a degree or diploma. Then, we need to find a place that will employ us, where we will earn what we need.
This is where the question of today’s verse arises. We are getting busy in life. We try to make the most of all opportunities crossing our paths. However, after a few years, there may be a bit of disillusionment. Melvin Udall asked the famous question in the like-named movie: “What if this is as good as it gets?”
If money is the sole motivation for doing your job, then there is a good chance of disappointment. When do we reach our goals? When do we ever have enough money? There will always be someone with more money and bigger toys than us. When money is my aim, then jealousy will follow. If it is to become famous, to be successful, then we also are only one misstep away from disaster. Fame and honour can be taken away in an instant.
With this question, today’s verse is leading us to delve into our reasoning – how will we measure success? We will find fulfilment in thankfulness. We will be happy if we learn to find joy in the small things in life. We will see, in days to follow, that relationships are much more important than possessions. When I can live today and celebrate today with gratefulness, then I will find fulfilment in my daily work.
Prayer: Lord, we live in a challenging time. Many people do not have work and struggle to survive. I pray for our readers who are going through tough times; please provide for every need. Thank you for your care and for the joy found in the small things along the way. Amen