Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Tag: Ecclesiastes

Overworked, Underpaid & Underappreciated

Do you ever feel overworked and underappreciated? Had you registered that complaint with Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, I doubt you would’ve gotten much sympathy. More likely, he would have said, “That’s life. Life’s hard. Move on.” In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that life here at ground level isn’t pretty or fair and is anything but predictable. It’s a blunt force trauma perspective on life. 

For example, in Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon describes several inequitable situations that characterize human life. In the final verses of the chapter, he emphasizes both the value of wisdom and its limitations. He says…

There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom, yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. (Ecclesiastes 9.14-18)

Every day we see situations like this. We see business leaders, politicians, and public figures who are loud, foolish, and inept. Frequently, it’s the quiet voices of their humble helpers who cover for them and save the day. The helpers get no credit and they’re soon ignored and forgotten. What’s worse, as Solomon observes, the good work these people do is often undone by a single act of folly.

So, what if you’re in one of those dead-end jobs? What if your boss doesn’t realize what a tremendous asset you are? What if you don’t get the recognition you deserve? What if nobody listens to you? What if you don’t get the raises and promotions you deserve? What if your best efforts are treated like yesterday’s emails? What if you’re overworked and underappreciated?

Solomon also provides an answer for this. He says take heart. Earlier in the chapter, he makes two other observations that, I think, balance the negativity in the rest of the chapter. In verse one he says, “For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God.” Then, he says in verse seven, “God has already approved your works.” 

Work life can be frustrating. You might well be ignored, marginalized, or forgotten. But there’s hope, because God sees what we do and blesses us when we work not for human approval, but for his glory.


Someone has wisely observed that the only constant in life is change.

From the day we’re born until the day we die we change. Our bodies change, our brains change, our relationships change, our jobs change, our families change, our finances change, our beliefs change, our pleasures change, and our pains change. Change isn’t the problem. The problem is our reluctance or inability to adapt to these changes.

In Ecclesiastes 3.1-8, Solomon said: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Solomon is describing life. He’s describing the different circumstances and changes that comprise life under the sun. All of us are affected by these changes, none of us are exempt. So, if this is what life looks like, how do we adapt to these constant changes? 

First, we need to accept them. Life changes, often subtly, and sometimes dramatically. It’s completely unrealistic to think that we’re immune to these changes. They’re simply part of human existence. 

Second, we need to understand that the different seasons of life are appointed by God. Verse ten of this chapter says, “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.” Just as the weather cycles between spring, summer, fall, and winter, our lives cycle back and forth between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, fullness and emptiness, and purpose and confusion. This isn’t by chance, but by divine decree.

Third, we need to realize that God uses these changing circumstances to lead us to him. He uses time and circumstance to point us to eternity. Verse eleven in the text says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” He wants us to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to him. Human philosophy says, “Look within yourself.” God says, “Look beyond yourself.” 

Change can be hard and disconcerting. It can even be painful. But once we see in these changes the handiwork and purposes of God, it puts things into their proper perspective, and allows us to not only endure these changes, but also to embrace them.