Joy in work

For what profit comes to mortals from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which they toil under the sun? Every day sorrow and grief are their occupation; even at night their hearts are not at rest. This also is vanity. There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and provide themselves with good things from their toil. Even this, I saw, is from the hand of God.
-Ecclesiastes 2:22-24


The compulsive worker... overloading his days with toil and his nights with worry, has missed the simple joys that God was holding out to him. The real issue for him was not between work and rest but, had he known it, between meaningless and meaningful activity. As verse 24 points out, the very toil that tyrannized him was potentially a joyful gift of God... if only he had the grace to take it as such.

Here is the other side to the 'unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men' (1:13), for in themselves, and rightly used, the basic things of life are sweet and good.  Food, drink and work are samples of them... What spoils them is our hunger to get out of them more than they can give; a symptom of the longing which differentiates us from the beasts, but whose misdirection is the theme of this book.

Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes