I have had some extra time to read as part of the recovery process. Earlier this week I finished Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End by David Gibson. God has used the book as both a comfort and a challenge to help me wrestle with my mom’s death and my cancer journey. I am not up to doing a book report, but I would like to share one verse from Ecclesiastes and a thought from Dr. Gibson. The verse is Ecclesiastes 9:7, which Gibson suggests is the book of Ecclesiastes in a nutshell. It reads: Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Throughout the book, Gibson suggested that we have a bent toward aspiring “to have it all, know it all, do it all, achieve it all, be happy forever, have all the answers, never be left scratching our head, and be remembered by all for all time.” We approach life as something that we must gain. The message of Ecclesiastes runs counter to that. Ecclesiastes teaches us that life is not something we can gain. There is no certainty in our ability to make something happen. It may sound morbid to our performance-fueled ears, but the only thing that is certain for any of us is our death. Gibson holds that if we can prepare to die, then we can truly learn how to live. And the way to live that Ecclesiastes as a whole and the verse above in particular point to is to see life today as a gift.

Amid the perplexity, even the heartache of life, God gives us life. He gives us gifts to enjoy. I do not want to gloss over the loss of my mom or the pain of cancer and surgery. But God gave me many gifts through my mom. Her loss in my life is real, but it is real in part because of those gifts. My cancer has messed up my schedule and plans. I suppose you could say it has derailed my agenda. But it has not derailed the purpose and plan of God in my life. His gift to make me like Christ can be accomplished through incisions that cause abdominal pain just like His gift might include profound blessing on a sermon or some ministry initiative. I have been challenged this last week to consider that life is a gift, not a gain. I have also been comforted that life is a gift. A gift from God for my good that points me to His glory. Join me in receiving the joy and merry heart God is offering us in the gift of life.