Do you enjoy your life? To some I imagine the nature of the question may come off a bit silly, but I assure you the question is anything but silly. Do you enjoy your life?
We have reached the dawning of a New Year and the majority of people in our little world are found celebrating. Granted some are celebrating or have already celebrated in a fashion that needs to be frowned upon, but I find it appropriate to ask why? What is there to celebrate about the transition from one year to another?
Your response will differ depending upon what type of person you are (and no I’m not talking about the extrovert versus the introvert, although there are certainly noticeable differences there). The response you give to “why are you celebrating the coming in of a New Year?” will differ depending upon your theological bent (again, not arguing the about the various distinctions between our prized theological traditions; everyone is a theologian, even the atheist no matter how ardently they may seek to deny it).
Let me be a little more specific. As a Christian, why are you celebrating? As a non-believer, why are you celebrating? What is so special about the New Year? The cynical person may say, “there’s nothing special about this new year,” and yet at the same time be found making various resolutions to better their life and/or improve the quality of it.
A little over a year ago I was having a bout with doubts. You see, this year (in about a month) I will be turning 40 years old, and by all intents and purposes I have accomplished nothing of import. Now I’m not saying that attitude is a good reflection of a Christian man, let alone a pastor, but if I’m being honest that was how I felt. I thank the Lord that I have a wife who is courageous enough to call me an idiot! I won’t bore you with all the details of why I was having these thoughts, but her not so gentle rebuke woke me up out of my stupor…if you will. This did not remove the questions that I still am found pondering over, but my attitude was correctly steered.
I say all of this to once again visit the question, “Do you enjoy your life?” I find that this question is irrevocably tied to our anticipation of what comes in the dawning of yet another year. We celebrate the coming New Year because we enjoy life at least to some extent. Some may enjoy the prospect of a better life in the year to come, but others may genuinely enjoy the lot in life that they have been given.
I believe that if we asked Jesus of Nazareth that same question his response would be a resounding “YES!”
Wait a minute! You mean the guy that Isaiah describes as the suffering servant (cf. Isa 53). The man whose own people turned against Him, who screamed with murderous intent “His blood on us and on our children!” (Matt 27.25) before having him nailed to a Roman cross. Are you telling me that Jesus would answer the question, “Did you enjoy your life? All of it?” with a definite yes?
Jesus enjoyed the company of his disciples. He enjoyed the fellowship of those who broke bread with him and drank wine with him. He had a good time at weddings, in worshiping with the people of God, fishing and reading, praying and singing, and long conversations into the night with friends and family. He loved little children, and no doubt smiled warmly at the infants who cooed. He enjoyed sunsets and the smell of the flowers of the field, and the taste of harvested bounties. No doubt he enjoyed sweating through a hard day’s labor with his step-dad Joseph as they worked in the carpentry trade. If asked of our Lord, “Do you enjoy life?” He would have said “yes, every day is a gift, a blessing to cherish and behold.”
You say, “Kris…how can you say such things? How can you know that is what He would have said?” Because any person who could look at the suffering entailed with the crucifixion and death he endured with a joyful heart is one who can and would answer the question “Do you [did you] enjoy your life?” with yes.
- “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12.2)
This same Jesus is the one who sent the Spirit to the writer of Ecclesiastes and moved him to say,
- “And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun” (Eccl 8.15; cf. 3.12-14; 5.18-20).
- “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head” (Eccl 9.7).
Every day of our lives is a gift. Every day of our lives, the good and the bad, is meant to be viewed through the eyes of our Sovereign Creator, and we find joy in life, in all its seasons (see Eccl 3.1-8; Lam 3.38) because of Him. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks an appropriate question, “What is the chief end of man?” That is to say, “What is the primary purpose of man?” The answer if very simple, “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
Our focus needs to be on the Lord above. He gives us joy and we find peace in Him knowing that all things are in His hands. Our responsibility is to be obedient to Him, for that is how we glorify Him…that is how we love Him. And it is from this knowledge of who He is coupled with who we are as His creatures that gives us true joy. We are then equipped to realize that every day is a gift—yes even the bad ones—and they have been given to us to know Him, who is above all things, all the while enjoying life to the fullest in His Name.
When I was very young I was told that the book of Ecclesiastes was a very distressing book. A book that was guaranteed to put your heart in the dumps. If we look at it from the wrong perspective, I can see that. When I ponder the New Year celebrations and the many resolutions that follow them, I see the truth of why we tend to get down. Our perspective on life is skewed, and as a result we are chasing the wind (Eccl 1.14) or as we might say it today, “chasing our tails.” Why don’t we start chasing after God and His righteousness (cf. Matt 6.33), and take pleasure in each day as if it were our last? Tomorrow has enough worries of its own. Enjoy today. Enjoy your life. Find pleasure in that which the Lord has given you. Look to Him, above all else.