S191P10 – Ecclesiastical truths: there is joy here

Ecc. 8:14-15

There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve.  This too, I say, is meaningless.  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

Like most twins, they were pretty similar in many ways, but they were different in one very important way.  While they both served those in the community who were in need, and they both experienced their family’s own trials and struggles, they responded differently to all of it.  Paula always searched for something to make her smile in the midst of sadness.  Her life was not brighter or happier that her sister’s, but she knew how to find the joy in it.  Patty was too consumed with the pain and injustice she saw around her, and she could not see the bright spots.  She was too distracted by the darkness in this world to recognize the light.  Patty almost felt too guilty to enjoy life while others suffered so much.  Paula, on the other hand, knew that God meant for this life to bring us joy despite the pain.

If we are not careful, we can begin to have tunnel vision in one way or the other.  While it is not good for us to ignore the evils of this world and pretend that they do not exist, it also is not good for us to be consumed by what is wrong with the fallen world around us and allow it to steal our joy.  We were not put here to be harbingers of doom and gloom.  We are here to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is a joyous message, and we should be living joyous lives.  In fact, because Jesus Christ has already overcome the world, we can live with joy despite that which comes our way.  Being in the world but not of the world, we are light.  Ultimately, we have two options: we can let the world dim our light, or we can let our light illuminate the world.  Either we affect it, or it affects us.

On its own, the world may not be a joyous place.  That does not mean that it should rob us of the joy God makes available during our time here.  Although this life is just a vapor of our eternal existence, that does not mean that it should be wasted or spent in misery.  God blesses us by allowing us to be joyful in this place.  We should not feel guilty for experiencing happiness when others are downtrodden, but we should be grateful for that gift.  It is really just an example of the good news we share, that this joy is available to others as well.  We need to embrace every bit of happiness that God allows to come our way while we are here.  Father, let us be true lights in this very dark world, and fill us with joy daily so that others would see your kindness and your goodness.