I opened up the Bible this morning in the middle of my prayers. I just got a thought to open the Bible. There has been a lot going on for me recently, and this put it all into perspective.
It was from Ecclesiastes 1-3. It was basically about Wisdom. Chapters 1 and 2 had a tone of sadness and perhaps ‘disillusion’ to some extent. The writer reflects on all he has done and achieved and realizes that it will all count for naught in the end. He repeatedly says : “All is vanity’ and a chase after wind” (1:14)
However, we have to appreciate what we have, for all is a gift from God – even our work. Our work takes a lot of effort and this effort is pleasing to God:
“There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and provide themselves with good things from their toil. Even this, I saw, is from the hand of God.” (2:24)
The footnotes in the Bible explain the following verses on God’s work and timing in Chapter 3: 1-8: “The fourteen pairs of opposites describe various human activities. The poem affirms that God has determined the appropriate moment or “time” for each. Human beings cannot know that moment; further, the wider course of events and purposes fixed by God are beyond them as well.”
“There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
2 A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
6 A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.”
“What profit have workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to mortals to be busied about.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 9-10)
The writer details all he has done and achieved. He realizes that all he has will be passed down to future generations; that each day is the same as the next – he expresses the futility and emptiness. I am by nature an optimist, and I always persist, but at times, things get to me and I want to lash out.
Why am I doing this? Is it really worthwhile? I haven’t done anything to deserve this! This is not what I want to spend my time on. I don’t need to go through all this stuff with other people – I’ll just leave and let someone else do it! I wonder if God led me here and whether perhaps I should be elsewhere doing something else? This is not what I was called to do! I’m not going to do this anymore- I’m already flat out…
But I realize that sometimes, God speaks to us through other people. Perhaps He wants me there. I think God directs us to work and people and situations in our lives. They are all there to teach us something. It is not always easy. It is work, sometimes hard work. Sometimes the work is ‘people.’
We have to work at all we do. Our work is not just to earn a wage with which to support our families. It entails everything we do – whether it is building, teaching, doctoring, nursing, or governing -or whether it is work such as organizing, cooking, cleaning, mothering and fathering, being sisterly and brotherly, caring, consoling and guiding others; even handing out “Christian How to Vote pamphlets” on important election issues.
We may be involved in many other things in our daily lives – “Meals on Wheels”, Catechist work, or Sacramental programmes for children, in picking up other people’s children for sporting or recreational activities, in nursing home visits, in community service such as “Cleaning up Australia Day’ or many other voluntary activities.
At times we become disillusioned, or tired, or have difficulty with other people and we too may wonder (like the writer in the Bible reading ) – whether it is all worth it. As Crusaders (and as part of the Remnant Army) we pray, evangelize, share our ideas and knowledge; we support each other, we do spiritual reading, we blog… This all feels good and enjoyable, but our lives entail so much more – we have to appreciate all the work we are called to do; even the hard stuff. (Being a Crusader is “hard stuff” but we don’t notice because we enjoy doing it because it is for God.)
God made us to toil and to enjoy it: “And I saw that there is nothing better for mortals than to rejoice in their work; for this is their lot.” (Ecc. 3:22)
If this is so, and work is a gift from God, and in it God is revered – what better can we do than to do all our work to the very best of our ability, and in so doing, experience true happiness and joy knowing that this is what God wants.
The writer concludes: (Ecclesiastes 3: 12-14):
“I recognized that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do well during life. 13 Moreover, that all can eat and drink and enjoy the good of all their toil—this is a gift of God. 14 I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered.”