I started reading Ecclesiastes yesterday. It's not a common book read in Bible studies, but I figure, it's part of Scripture, so it must be worth reading!
My favorite passage so far is this one from chapter three (right after the "a time for everything" section):
"What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." -Ecclesiastes 3:9-14
This is just a beautiful passage, and there's so much in it!
God has made us people with eternal souls--"has set eternity in the hearts of men." So we aren't fully content in this world governed by time, but at the same time our finite bodies "cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." We're not made for this world, obviously. But what does life in this world consist of? Eating, drinking, and working.
That could be a pretty meaningless existence--in fact, that's what the writer of Ecclesiastes ponders throughout the book. What's the purpose in life? What's the purpose to eating, drinking, and working? They're meaningless.
But this passage gives hope:
"That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in his toil--this is the gift of God."
We're not made for this world, but we were made to live in it for a time. And in order that our life here may not be without purpose, God created us for eternity--our lives in this world have an ultimate purpose, that is, to direct others toward eternity. We were all created as eternal beings, but not everyone knows that, and not everyone knows how much God wants them to live with him in paradise for eternity. So that's our purpose here, and we are constantly reminded of it because we can't be completely content living in this finite world.
And while we are living in this world, going about our lives--eating, drinking, and working--God gives us pleasure and satisfaction in that. He doesn't condemn us to a life of bore, a meaningless life. While we are at work pointing people to him, he blesses us and enables us to live a happy life, with the pleasures of food and drink, and the satisfaction that comes from work well done.
What a gift. What a life. What a God we have.