God’s Gifts

Blog 8.30.2021

God’s Gifts

“Depression And Anxiety Doubled in Youth, Compared to Pre-Pandemic”

“Mental Health Cases Continue to Increase”

“Mental Health Crises in Developed Countries”


These headlines are so commonplace in our culture today. Few people even bat an eye on the decline of the mental state of our society. It is almost as if this is normal for most of our population; everyone should be battling anxiety and depression. It breaks my heart to think that people silently engage in so many false assumptions that it eventually pulls them into such a dark space that they struggle to see the good in life.

As I was preparing for my lesson this week, I stumbled on a theme that I had not thoroughly investigated before. Finding joy in life was highlighted in four passages within the sermon communicated by the “Preacher,” known as the book of Ecclesiastes. While this book espouses a fatalist view of life, the Preacher wrote some truth within these passages. The book’s writer seems to be fighting their confrontation with depression, and interestingly enough, a common theme emerges throughout the book. Here is the tidbit that I discovered.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,”

Ecclesiastes 3:13 “That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil–this is the gift of God.”

Ecclesiastes 5:18 “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them–for this is their lot.”

Ecclesiastes 8:15 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

If you follow the thread found in this passage, there is a joy to be found in the everyday occurrences of life. However, these passages are not the “cure” for mental health issues. Think of this more as a foray into the cognitive-behavioral exercise of addressing false thinking. There are three things I think we need to consider as we read this passage.

Each aspect of these verses is a gift from God. Every day is a gift from God. Including the food and beverages, we consume. I pause and reflect on how often I take these sources of life for granted. If I become upset because I miss a meal or squabble about where I should eat, doesn’t this reflect a sense of entitlement about the source of my daily sustenance? Have I not appropriated this gift as a ‘right’ and not as a gracious blessing? Instead, let us enjoy every bite and sip as a benevolent offering from a God who loves us dearly.

Find satisfaction in our toil. We have an incredibly skewed concept of work. We view work as drudgery and obligation. When we have such a negative view of work, the work can never appreciate it. The capitalist says, “I work to provide for my way of living.” The socialist comments, “I work to better society.” The Theist states, “I work because it is a gift from God.” If you fall under the two former lines of thinking, you will never have joy, the capitalist will never have enough, and the socialist can never better society by their efforts. Regardless of what you do, from surgeon to sanitation, frame it with this thought, “it is a gift to work,” then you will have satisfaction in your efforts.

My final thought is that if you find yourself “out of sorts,” it is probable that you are out of alignment with one of these areas. For example, perhaps you have become a slave to your stomach (either too much or too little). Your obsession with drink is unhealthy and damaging spiritually. Your work consumes everything about your life (time, energy, thinking). If you find this true in your own life, find the balance and make a change.

If you lack joy in your life, start in these areas and appreciate the gifts from God. Simply reframing how you look at the world can have a tremendous effect on your stress and anxiety levels, and to think the fatalist writer of Ecclesiastes had the answers all along.