Rest or Toil?

“What I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun...” - Ecclesiastes 5:18

I was cleaning out my garage the other day of all the mess winter gathers and I found an as-yet unused two-person travel hammock that I received at a Yankee Swap from a family Christmas party. It’s unlikely to ever be used by two people, but I’m thankful for the added security. I pulled it out and set it aside, hoping that the day would come when I could lay in it and take a rest.

Rest. That’s what the hammock symbolized for me.

It probably doesn’t strictly needto be warm outside to rest. But I feel like it does. I’m not going to hang the it out in the cold and bundle myself up in blankets. I’m going to rest by swinging from the maple branches, the leaves forming a canopy rustling ever so slightly in the warm breeze.

All of this came back to me as I was driving, and the sun came out from behind the clouds. It provided immediate warmth, reminding me, it’s April. Warmth is coming, it’s just a little late this year. With warmth comes rest, and the thought of it brought an almost immediate sense of comfort and contentment.

Why was that? I think because I felt an immediate sense that things were going to be okay.

I should note, it’s not like anything particularly stressful or difficult or out-of-the-ordinary was going on. There wasn’t some impending sense of doom. It was just normal, run-of-the-mill tiredness. It’s the tiredness that comes from feeling like we’ve just been at it too long, like everything depends on us, like we’re responsible for all of the things.

This past week in church we talked about contentment. God wants us to “find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun,” but that contentment and enjoyment is directly related to how much we trust God with our future. The teacher of Ecclesiastes was relating it to our finances: how much we enjoy the wealth God has given us will be in direct proportion to how much we trust that it came from Him. It’s true of other areas, as well, especially our daily toil: our contentment, enjoyment, and satisfaction in our daily toil will be in direct proportion to how much we trust him with our future.

That’s the thing about rest: it’s not just a future reality. It’s a present reality, and one that we can only experience when we believe that things really are going to be okay.

Every now and again we need a reminder. The warm sun was my reminder. What’s your reminder?