February 5, 2021

Ecclesiastes 4:6 

Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.


Finally, Solomon gives us the conclusion we have been waiting for. He’s told us not to toil and be envious. He’s told us not to passively wait. And here, he gives us the narrow road between the two. I love the imagery used here. In verse 6, Solomon describes two hands clenched – desperately trying not to lose what they have. Alternatively, remember the two hands from verse 5, folded and unable to to take advantage of opportunity or lend assistance. 

In the middle we see one hand, full of responsibility, opportunity, or reward. But the other hand is free. Free to give, free to receive, free to help or accept help. Able to grasp an opportunity or point the way. What a perfect description of how we should live our lives. Obviously, most of us need to hold jobs, feed the kids, finish school. One hand is always full. But if we find that the responsibilities of our lives require both hands, and we no longer have space or margin, it should be a gut check.

To nuance the idea a little bit, let’s acknowledge that two handed seasons exist. Caregiving takes two hands. A new job takes two hands. Navigating mental health or fighting addiction can take two hands. But if those seasons extend too long, it’s no longer a season. We’ve become the person with two handfuls, toiling to keep them both full. Similarly, we can be forced into having empty hands. Unexpected illness, retirement, or quarantine force some of us to empty our hands. If we live too long with empty hands, it becomes harder and harder to pick something up again.

So our reflection for today is, which person are you? Are your hands empty? It’s time to take up a cause, a relationship, or a responsibility. Are your hands both full? What can you let go of for the good of yourself and those around you? Are you the blessed individual with one handful living in peace? Write a book for the rest of us! But seriously, begin to ask God if there is an opportunity to give, serve, or receive with that open hand. Continue to discern the flow of God in and out of your life, giving and taking for His glory. Amen.

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