In many ways it seems that this life on earth is unfair, biased against us. One day, all is fine; the next, not so good. Most of this is likely due to our own experience and our myopic perspective — we are simply too self-absorbed and too concerned about what others think. The words in these chapters remind me to relax a bit, to take a break from being so critical of myself and others around me. I’m so thankful for these words, though it took a few times reading through them to get to this conclusion. Take your time. See if you agree with that concept. Enjoy.
Deep in the heart of Ecclesiastes, these two chapters reveal the struggle Solomon must have wrestled with constantly. On one hand he proclaims the day of death is better than the day of birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1), followed by the idea that we should just enjoy life, party on! (Ecclesiastes 8:15). In between there is a lot to consider in this short narrative. Here are some thoughts that spoke to me today:
Some times are good, some times are not so good:
Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.
This is not a call to sit and watch the grass grow, rather, it’s a reminder that we are not in control. As I drive past the palm reader signs I know that there is no need to stop–no one truly knows the future other than God himself. Well, for that matter, God is beyond time so there is no future or past for God himself. We are the only ones bound by time. A philosophical argument for another day!
This I find is a warning worthing of engraving on a plaque and mounting above the door:
Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you—
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
Can I get an amen?? That verse will definitely preach!! One of the great sci-fi themes includes the ability to read another person’s mind. Lord, I’m glad we can’t do that! It’s bad enough that we are tossed and turned by words people say, I can’t imagine how I would handle what people are thinking! I’m even shocked by my own thoughts at times, so I’m glad to know this is impossible. More to Solomon’s point, it’s good to be reminded that we should be careful to put much weight in words we hear from others–especially criticism. If there’s a continuum between creative and engineer, I would tend more to the creative side, perhaps 60:40. It’s hard to hear words of criticism and not be affected. Lord, help me to learn from this wise advice.
Here is a truth that is impossible to refute:
Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow. Ecclesiastes 8:12-13
This is like the beginning of Pascal’s Wager: better to confess Christ and be wrong than to be wrong by not confessing Christ. Obviously, or at least I hope it’s obvious to anyone reading this blog, I don’t think it’s a trivial thing to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior–that takes real commitment. Solomon reminds us that God will deal with those who choose otherwise, it’s simply not up to us to think about. It will not go well with them.
After all is said and done:
No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. Ecclesiastes 8:17
This from the wisest man who walked on earth. I find comfort in this thought, though I truly seek to become wiser today than yesterday, I won’t know it all. It is impossible. When I think about the vast knowledge that God has compared to my tiny brain, I am humbled, but not discouraged. If I can gain some wisdom, let it be that which helps others see the magnificence of Jesus Christ.