The book of Ecclesiastes and I have a love/hate relationship. I’ve always avoided the book (kind of like I do with the Revelation to John). But I knew when I saw that it was an upcoming study for a women’s blog I follow, that it was just for me. And it has been exactly what I thought it would be: challenging, maddening and enlightening.
I know the reason I struggle with the book is because it reveals a great deal of the cynicism in my own heart. When I choose to view life through my very cloudy and negative lenses instead of a zoomed out version of life and death (eternal perspective), I am inevitably going to agree with Solomon’s skewed view of life. I am well aware of my tendency to take the low view instead of the high one – the one in which Paul tells me that I am seated with Christ (Ephesians 2). I default to gloom and doom when I’m not immersed in the joyful truth of grace and life everlasting. Just like David, I can often say “my feet almost stumbled when I thought how to understand it all. It seemed to me a wearisome task …
until I went into the sanctuary of God.”
As I’ve pondered and prayed about what I’ve been reading, I’ve become more and more convinced that wisdom is only good as it is pure and peaceable, humble and merciful, fruitful and sincere. I may appear to have a great deal of wisdom about many things. Maybe I can talk a good talk and just maybe some people even listen, thinking it sounds right. BUT if my heart isn’t right with God, all of the good advice I give and the good sermons I preach will produce a bunch of nothing in myself.
I have had so much truth and grace poured into my life. I’ve had many opportunities to learn and mature. I’ve prayed often for wisdom and I am so thankful that God has given it to me many times. But I don’t ever want to take it for granted not do I want to misinterpret human knowledge for godly, Spirit-filled wisdom.
Solomon got off track from his pursuit of God alone. I have sensed his burden and angst as I read his melancholy words. He looked around, saw the wickedness and sorrow of rich and poor alike and formed some wrong conclusions. I know that when I’m left to my own imaginations, ideas, and assumptions that I’ll very likely fall into the same trap that the once-wise king did. It seems he had forgotten the songs that the people of God used to sing to their hearts (Pm 73). The song writer was also on the verge of thinking that everything he had done was in vain … until he met with God. We may feel a sense of hopelessness about our lives and our world if we don’t zoom out and focus on the goodness of God. What He allows inside the dark tunnel of life may not always make sense to us, but it doesn’t have to when we can see that the light at the end is clearly and surely ahead. The weariness may be present, but we find strength to run with diligence and hope toward the light.
I love what one commentator said that puts it all in perspective for me: If, in singing Psalm 73 we fortify ourselves against the life temptation [to despair and envy], we do not use it in vain. The experiences of others should be our instructions.
We may look around and recognize the dismal conditions. But we can come to very different conclusions than Solomon did. We can turn our hearts to a good Father and be assured …
When Darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.
Christ alone, Cornerstone.
Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love.
Through the storm, He is Lord of all.