“Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.
He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NIV)
I am not sure I have ever read this verse. If not, it sure caught my eye this morning so that I had to read and re-read it. Its message is stunning! The ability to enjoy our work, our lot in life or to experience contentment in our present circumstances is a gift from God—that is, it is a grace from God if you are enjoying your life! There seems to be no area of living that is not grace enabled!
Packer had me pondering joy as he shared that God’s gift of joy flows from four sources.
First, joy flows from the awareness of being loved. No one has joy who does not know that there is someone who values, accepts and cares for him or her. When human love disappoints you, go to the cross and become aware again of how much you are loved.
Second, joy flows from accepting one’s situation as good. People are always fretting about the way things are, wishing they were different, and longing for things to happen that are not likely to happen—these anxious thoughts disqualify you from joy. Ponder that your present circumstance and experiences have passed through the heart of a Sovereign God and been approved for your life as preparation for glory.
Third, joy flows from having something worthwhile. You have something of incomparable worth in a saving relationship with Christ. Added to this precious gift you have spouse, children, home, hobbies, work, and friends that make life worth living. Are you more focused on what you lack rather than on the worthwhile things that you have been given?
Fourth, joy flows from giving something worth giving. If you belong to Christ you possess the one thing that is of supreme worth. Joy abounds as you share what is precious to you.
Joy is like jam – it sticks to you as you spread it.
J.I.Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Vine Books, 1995, p. 348-9
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24 (ESV)