When was the last time someone suggested, "You should be sad...it'll do you some good!"? That's not the advice I want to hear when I need some joy. This verse can be confusing if you are familiar with Proverbs 15:30 - "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones."
However, the sort of sorrow mentioned in Ecclesiastes is more of an invitation, an 'eye-opener', to explore the source of TRUE joy. How many times have we placed our happiness and joy in our circumstances? Let's get real for a second and I want you to examine yourself as I examine myself.
THIS IS WHAT WE CONSIDER A GOOD DAY AND DETERMINES IF WE ARE HAPPY:
- It's Friday.
- The sun is shining and the weather is pretty outside.
- We found a great parking spot.
- We had a good day at work with no complications.
- Our relationships provide the stability we desire.
THIS IS WHAT WE CONSIDER A BAD DAY AND STEALS OUR JOY:
- It's Monday.
- It's raining outside. Boo!
- We can't find anything to wear to work/school/party.
- Traffic was horrible!
- There was no more coffee left in the break room.
- The kids were screaming in the car.
- The hot water was out this morning.
- And so on...
How much of your daily joy is invested in these things above? Sometimes we need a wake up call to what true joy is, and that comes when we honestly face the facts: death is inevitable, life is brief, and most human pleasure is fleeting and fickle. When we let those realities touch us, we have the opportunity to discover what is eternal, and what can't be taken from us because it is a good gift from God. Paul knows that goodness can come from sorrow and troubles when he wrote Romans 5:3-5:
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
and in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
I want to leave you with a hymn that's been stuck in my head for about 2 weeks now.
"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."