There are several little gems in the book of Ecclesiastes that are easy to miss. One has to read carefully to find them hidden amongst some difficult verses. Different translations also help us to understand what a verse means. The New Living Translation of this same verse says this:
“God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” Ecclesiastes 5:20 NLT
To be ‘occupied with gladness of heart’ or to be ‘so busy enjoying life’ is something man desires above and beyond anything else. He looks for it in his work, his family, his money, in dream holidays and the luxuries of life.
However, the truth is we can have all these wonderful things and yet still feel discontent. It’s good to step back from time to time and measure your happiness. When do you feel blissfully content? When you get up in the morning or when you finally get into bed tired out and exhausted after a full day’s work?
The truth is many of us have happy moments when we celebrate in a particular way: the birth of a child, a happy engagement, when we achieve something new, when our team wins the league or when we retire. Many don’t live occupied with ‘gladness of heart’ all of the time. It’s something that comes and goes like our Scottish weather! One minute it’s sunny and the next it is raining!
God-given gladness of heart is not dependent on our circumstances but on our consistent relationship with God. We may never have been successful or achieved any long-term goals but if we put Christ first, our hearts will overflow with His blessing which leads to contentment.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV
“I have told you this..” What did Jesus tell them? He told them this:
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10 NIV
This is the only way to complete joy: it is being obedient to His commandments. Stop searching for complete happiness by any natural means. Look for it in the eternal. Find out what the commandments of Christ are, obey them, and you will find yourself ‘occupied with gladness of heart.’ Not only will you overflow with blessing, but the mistakes of the past also won’t haunt you any longer. Then our joy will surely be complete.
“God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”