I once heard that while I am under 40 (which I am), I should not read the book of Ecclesiastes. Supposedly, according to the speaker, the book will mean more to those who read it who have more life experience.
But, I am a little bit of a rebel when it comes to things like this, and it is difficult to succeed in the goal of reading the whole Bible through in a year if you are planning to skip a book on purpose. I have read the Bible from beginning to end twice so far in my life. In addition, while I was in high school and college, before receiving this advice to postpone reading this Bible book, I had a fascination with its deep view of the meaning of life.
There are many people I know (and know of) who read a chapter of Proverbs a day. The book of Proverbs is 31 chapters long, so it makes it a great book to read each day of the month. (When I have done this, I will read the last chapter(s) on the last day of the month because I like finishing.)
However, this morning, while looking for something to include in this weekend’s newsletter, I had the inspiration to read the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes—and something jumped out at me that I had not seen before.
Most people see the book as a long list of pessimism until the last chapter where Solomon concludes with what he has concluded is the purpose behind life, but this is an oversimplification. Solomon wrote and compiled the Book of Proverbs earlier in his life, Ecclesiastes, which was written later in his life, can also be seen as a collection of wise, deep conclusions about life (similar to the proverbs he wrote earlier). The two books are like two bookends on a life of collecting and sharing wisdom.
You might be wondering what jumped out at me. It was the following verse segment mixed inside the pessimism surrounding the ideas of death: “So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here!” (Ecclesiastes 3:22a NLT)
Statistics say that 70-80% of people (or more) hate their job. A person’s occupation is where they spend the majority of their awake and alert week. Many other statistics can confirm this, like suicides among male adults being the highest on Sunday evenings, and heart attacks being highest on Monday morning. Life becomes very meaningless and sad when you hate what it is that you do for a living.
However, is doing something that you ‘love’ even possible? Yes—but I believe that doing something you love is harder on the short term than doing something you hate, while doing something you hate is easy on the front end, but detrimental on your health and life over the long term.
Thousands of jobs exist that are not suited for your unique gifts, talents, and personality while there may be dozens or hundreds that are. So that means that it is easier to find a job that you don’t fit in well—but that means choosing frustration for your life.
If everyone was doing something they loved, aren’t there some jobs that no one would want, but that still need to be done? Maybe—but the number would be way fewer than one might think. There are people who have very complicated jobs who would love something simpler, and people with simple jobs who want a bigger challenge. I agree that work conditions in many places could be improved, but the biggest factor in a work environment is the quality of one’s co-workers. If everyone enjoyed being there, then most working environments would actually improve as well. If everyone viewed themselves on the same team, then the other challenges in an environment would be easy to tackle.
However, do you think I am being too unrealistically optimistic? Have you lost the hope that things can improve for you? Perhaps you have, but while you are still alive, you have the ability to regain hope, your passions, and develop a plan. If you are young like I am, I hope that you don’t want to look forward to a life of meaningless, frustrating work.
While we are alive, we have the freedom of choice, and we can choose to stay in uncomfortable familiarity, or challenge our fear of change, and blaze a new trail for ourselves on a path to find the life that God created for us. I can tell you with confidence that your life can only improve when there is change in it, so instead of fearing the possibility of failure (or what success would mean), choose to step out, make the plan, and begin to act.
Do you have any comments, thoughts, or questions? Share them below!