For the past few mornings, Jayme has jumped out of bed asking for some birthday cake with a candle. I think that she has been in the celebrating mode since my birthday last week. I can’t blame her. Birthdays are fun. This past one marked sixty-six years of life that has not always been easy but always joyous.
I had to laugh a little when I typed the joyous part. You see, my husband and I set out to read through the Bible this year. It’s the first time I have done such a thing. It has been an eye-opening experience. (But that discussion is for a later time.) For the past few weeks, we have read the Books of Wisdom which include Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. This week we hit Ecclesiastes. Yes, that very discouraging book.
Those who know the Bible know this book is a downer with its “meaningless, meaningless, life is but a vapor, we’re all gonna die’ message. It’s easy to get pulled down to the depths of despair when you read the words about how it doesn’t matter what you do. Life is life. It respects no one. It is plain hard. People, good and bad, experience the same blessings and the same curses as everyone around them. No one can control the future.
Resistance is futile.
There is no escape.
Dun. Dun. Dun.
Well, there is maybe one thing.
We can change our focus and find joy in the today. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes says the following
“I know there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is a gift from God.”Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NIV
Mindset is everything when it comes to a joy-filled life. In the portion of Scripture, it says there is nothing better than to be happy and do good. The word happy comes from the Hebrew word Samah, meaning to rejoice or be glad. And as much as we would like joyfulness to just light on us, it is something we must choose. The Teacher encourages us to live joyfully in this otherwise meaningless life.
Ecclesiastes also warns against wasting time on empty ventures of gathering up things we can’t take with us. Instead, it challenges us to cultivate what matters in our moments. That brings us back to the idea of adopting joy—being happy, doing good, and feeling satisfied. When you look at it, you can’t deny this makes for an extraordinary life.
Perhaps Jayme has the right idea. Every morning is cause for celebration. We may or may not want to skip the cake most days, but let’s keep the happiness we feel when we see the candles lit. If we have the attitude of joy, our days may be full of meaning we didn’t expect to find.
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”~Anne of Green Gables