Read: Ecclesiastes 3:9-14
What gain has the worker from his toil? (v. 9)
The title character of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is driven by one ambition. As a boy, Duddy was told, “A man without land is nothing.” Duddy sacrifices everything, including close relationships, to acquire his land. The novel’s author, Mordecai Richler, reintroduces Duddy as a minor character in Barney’s Version. Here, Duddy is an old man hoping to impress his fourth wife by supporting a charity. Duddy does not care about the charity. He cares about making something of himself—a desire that has been unfulfilled in a lifetime of ambition.
The “teacher” of Ecclesiastes has made a fortune and made a name for himself. He is now an old man. In a few years his fortune will go to someone else. In a few generations his name will be forgotten. He wonders out loud if there was any point to his life’s work. The teacher speaks for all human beings, whose days will end and whose worldly ambitions will disappear. How do we find a point to our work? Ecclesiastes concludes, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).
The key to living, and working, with purpose is to know that your life is one thread in the tapestry of God’s masterwork. Work is a sacred trust we offer back by participating in God’s work of caring for, and restoring, creation. Our lives have eternal meaning in the hands of the eternal God. —Ben Van Arragon
Prayer: Eternal God, grant my work today eternal meaning as part of your eternal plan.