Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

By Kaeli Sweigard

I am blessed enough to be part of a church that brings the most giant smile to my face. I so enjoy time with everyone, and always leave wanting more! When I sit down to think about Sugarbush, I can’t help but think about how much fun it is (seriously). I appreciate how at church it feels okay to laugh during a service. I take pleasure in the casual atmosphere, the participation, and of course our giant potlucks.

So I was getting to thinking about the role that fun and enjoyment has played at Sugarbush thus far and will play moving forward. I embarked upon a study of Ecclesiastes and found the following:

(12) I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (13) That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

That sounded great! And then I went on to read this:

(2) It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
(3) Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
- Ecclesiates 7:2-3

Wait, what? We were just told that there is nothing better than to eat, drink, and be merry, and then we go on to read that it is better to mourn than to feast? I’m confused. How do we reconcile the statement that “there is nothing better for people than to be happy”, with “frustration is better than laughter”? And what does that mean for church?

Basically, Ecclesiastes (as I read it) is about the meaninglessness of life and the futility of human enterprise (Ecc 11:8) – if we do it apart from God. It says whether we are good or bad, we all just die anyway.

We are reminded that only in God does life have meaning and true pleasure. We can toil all we want and amass all we want, but without God will we ever be truly satisfied? What will our worldly accomplishments count for at the end of the day (Ecc 5:15)? We are reminded that it is good to work as long as we go about our business with wisdom (Ecc 7:11,12).

For me, the whole book is awesome because it is brutally honest about life being unfair (especially 8:14) and sometimes we’re not sure why we’re doing what we’re doing at the end of the day.

I ask you, what does it mean for you to “find satisfaction in your toil”, at work, school, home? Why are you doing what you’re doing, and are you doing it for the glory of God? We are told that frustration is better than laughter – that we become wiser during the hard times than we do from the good times. How do we fully embrace and remain thankful for these good times, while being mindful of the frustrating times that are sure to come?

Peace and love,

Kaeli

(Note: This article originally appeared at the web site for Sugarbush Christian Church.)