Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
The book of Ecclesiastes is a challenge for us if we pull it out of its overall context. At first glance, our reading for this week looks like it is telling us futility is the way of the world and that we should shrug and give up.
To say that is to ignore the whole premise of the book, as well as the specific statements of Ecclesiastes 5:19-20. In these verses, as in the overall context of the Bible, God is the one who gives all the gifts we need, who enables us to rejoice in those gifts, and who gives us hope during all our hardships. The futility found in Ecclesiastes is not due to life. It is due to a life considered apart from God. If we think we are doing well and we decide to depend on ourselves and our possessions, we are bound for hopelessness and failure. If we are living with hope in the God who has cared for us and for all His creation, we see that God is good and that we are all right.
There’s a responsible reading of this text. Our reward and labor are gifts of God. He is the one who gives us what we need, including all those opportunities to care for ourselves, our family, and all those around us. This is a gift of God.
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