There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, ESV).
“It Is from the Hand of God”
This part is critically important. The ability to eat and drink and enjoy good in one’s labor is a gift; it is a gift from God (3:13). Now if it is a gift, that means we did not earn it nor do we have a right to it. A gift can be given and a gift can be taken away. Many do not have this gift (6:1-6), so if you have it, appreciate the moment! Our children desperately need to learn that God is giving us a truly valuable gift. Most of those who grew up in the ‘30’s, ‘40’s, and ‘50’s would not have dreamed of having what we enjoy today. Consider a simple example. Could Solomon have enjoyed strawberries, grapes, or apples year-round? We are truly blessed and are in danger of the anger of the Lord when we raise spoiled, picky kids who complain about what is set before them or that the peas are touching the gravy. It is a complete lack of thankfulness for a gift that one day very well may be gone.
Who Can Have Enjoyment Apart from Him?
Simply being able to eat and drink does not mean one can find enjoyment. In fact, the Preacher says it cannot be found apart from Him. Therefore, here is God’s equation for enjoyment in this life: God + eating and drinking and finding enjoyment in labor = the best life you can have on this earth! Wow. Got that equation? It is inspired; it’s tried & true. But take God out of the equation and what you have is, trying to eat and drink and find enjoyment in labor = hard toil, vanity, and striving after the wind (2:26). Jesus taught the principle this way: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). Our natural instincts say the opposite. Years ago, the jingle of another beer commercial went like this: “You only go around once in life, so get all the gusto!” Actually, Jesus said that if you try to get all the gusto, you will lose life. Jesus was not simply talking about eternity, He was talking about losing life now. There is only one way to gain life and that is to lose our life for Him. Remember, there is nothing better than to eat and drink and to find enjoyment in your labor. This is from the hand of God.