Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ecclesiastes 4:6 -- On Quietness and a Handful

"Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit."
Ecclesiastes 4:6

I like the idea here that quietness and peace is a virtue.  That it is better to be satisfied with less, and have peace, than to introduce struggle and anxiety into our lives in order to get more.  Often we inaccurately think that "endure to the end" means that we have to endure pain and stress all our lives for a final peace after this life, but that isn't the case.  Mormon 9:14 tells us clearly that "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  We need to make those choices to find happiness now.

This isn't to say that God doesn't want us to work, and it isn't extolling the virtues of being lazy, or suggesting that we give up on important things and just party all the time.  God definitely wants us to work and to learn and to progress in our lives.  But all progression isn't about stuff.  It isn't about having more than someone else, or being in competition and conflict with each other for limited resources.

Clearly, God would rather than we be at peace than be anxious and stressed out.  So, maybe part of our goal as we reach in for our handful in life, is to make sure that we balance our stress levels and our accomplishments.  If our job is setting us up for a heart attack, maybe it is time to get out.  If we've got our hands full, but we aren't happy, perhaps it is time to rethink.  Not rethink in an abandonment of family or the gospel way, of course, because that will make things worse.  But let's talk to God and figure out how we can manage our responsibilities and our lives in a better way.  Sometimes, as in the scripture, trading half our stuff for more peace is the best choice.

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