By Shawn McMullen
By this time, those of us who make New Year’s resolutions have already committed. (And some already may have lost the battle!) But before we get too far into 2013, I’d like to make a suggestion. Let’s use Ecclesiastes 5:19, 20 (NIV, 1984) as the basis of a resolution we all can keep, one that is guaranteed to lead to happiness and a glad heart.
The writer observed, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
Has God given you wealth and possessions? Here’s something to consider. According to the United Nations “Inclusive Wealth Report 2012,” the U.S. is still the richest country in the world—by a wide margin. America’s wealth is greater than the combined wealth of the next four richest nations—Japan, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom. What’s more, a person whose income is at the poverty line in the U.S. is still in the top 14 percent of global income distribution.
So it’s safe to say that although we may struggle financially by American standards, on a global scale most of us qualify as those to whom God has given wealth and possessions. But there’s a second part to the writer’s observation. Are you able to enjoy what you have, to accept your lot, and to be happy in your work? Notice I didn’t ask, “Do you?” but “Are you able to?”
Maybe you’re thinking, I don’t enjoy what I have, I’m not satisfied with my circumstances, and I don’t like my job. Perhaps here is where we need to take a page from the apostle Paul’s playbook and learn “to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
It’s noble to want to improve our lot in life. And in a country like ours, we have many options. Give your best to your current employer. Go back to school. Seek retraining within your company. Start your own business. But all the while, learn to be content right where you are. Ask God to help you appreciate what he’s already given you, to see the good in your current circumstances, and to find joy in the work you’re doing today.
Would you like to live each day of the New Year in true contentment? To be grateful for what you have? To appreciate what’s happening (and not happening) in your life and family? To find joy and satisfaction in your work (at the office or factory, in the home, or in your retirement)?
You can. Look to God. He alone will help you find contentment, peace, and joy in your present circumstances. He alone will keep you “occupied with gladness of heart.” He alone will make your lot acceptable and your days meaningful.
Let him be your guide and strength in the New Year.