How Can We Enjoy Thanksgiving This Year?
If you asked people what their favorite holiday is, many would say that it is Thanksgiving.
This past week I scoured the scriptures looking for that perfect verse for tonight and I think I found it. It is found in Ecclesiastes 2:24. It says, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”
This week we will celebrate Thanksgiving and hopefully everyone will be able to say with Solomon, “There is nothing better for a person than that he/she should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”
We especially hope that those who are laboring the most to make these holidays so special will be able to enjoy the holiday. Sometimes it is harder for those who prepare all of these things to enjoy these times because of all of the work that they had to put into it.
Now, having said all of this, we know that this holiday season will be quite a bit different from all of the other holidays that we have ever celebrated.
Many have had to cancel many of their plans to see family.
Some have had to ask their families not to come to visit them.
Others have had to make the decision that it would be best if they did travel to spend their holidays with their loved ones.
There are many who will be spending this holiday all by themselves.
Having acknowledged all of these things, what is the context in which we ought to consider Solomon’s words?
Is Solomon looking at the vanity of life and concluding that the only joy that is to be expected is that we eat, drink and find some way to enjoy our toil.
Is Solomon, as king, oblivious to the struggles that are common to most men; and as a result, he is ready to party and to live it up.
Or is Solomon looking realistically at life and therefore he finds a better way in which to celebrate even when life is painful, hard and futile.
Let’s briefly consider these three things. First, is Solomon considering all of life and concluding that ‘there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil’? Has Solomon looked around and resolved that the best we can cope under the present conditions is to eat and drink our sorrows away? Should we take this holiday and eat and drink and reward ourselves in some small way for all of the toil that we have had to go through over the last year?
In other words, is Solomon looking at life and coming to the conclusion that we ought to eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1 Cor. 15:32)
Secondly, when Solomon says, “There is nothing better for a person than that he/she should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil”, is he sitting up on his throne in Jerusalem oblivious of all of the pain, toil, hardship and futility that the subjects in his kingdom are experiencing? After all, these are the opening words of this book, ‘The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:1)
Is Solomon ready to party while his people are consumed with the burdens of life?
This does not seem to be too unrealistic because of the way that we have seen some of our leaders acting of late. There are many leaders who live by the motto, “Do as I say; do not do as I do.”
Many a King has squandered his rule away through self-indulgence, greed and lust. This is why King Lemuel’s mother pleads with her son in the book of Proverbs, “What are you doing my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” (Proverbs 31:1-5)
Or thirdly, when Solomon speaks these words is he looking realistically at life, seeing its vanity, it’s futility, and the harshness of it all, and letting us know that there is a proper way to celebrate in the midst of all of these struggles?
This is exactly what Solomon is doing. He is not sitting on his throne oblivious to what is going on all around him. This is how he begins this book, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2)
What a way to begin a book, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” (1:2)
Five times in one verse the Preacher uses the word vanity.
He emphasizes this point by saying “Vanity of vanities”.
He double emphasizes this point by saying again, “vanity of vanities!”
And finally, he adds the exclamation point he says, “All is vanity!” (all, every, entire, fully, the whole, without exception)