Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wrestling with Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 9:3-12 (New Living Translation)
3 It seems so tragic that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. That is why people are not more careful to be good. Instead, they choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. 4 There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!”
5 The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. 6 Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth. 7 So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! 8 Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!
9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. 10 Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave,[a] there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.
11 I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.
12 People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.

Sometimes, I really feel like Soloman.

When I read Ecclesiastes (or listen to a sermon on it!) I find myself resonating with so many of Soloman's hopeless statements.

I want to ask so many of the same questions.

I want to draw so many of the same conclusions.

I want to reiterate so many of his profound thoughts.

I want to scream, "why isn't life fair! Really! I don't get it!? Why do the righteous suffer? Why do the evil succeed? Why do people who squander their money have an endless supply and those who don't struggle to break even."

The underlying question in my mind, "why isn't God fair? Doesn't he know the rules? Doesn't he keep the score?" I like scores to be kept.

I was teaching the preschoolers a lesson today on God's protection. We were talking about calling on Jesus in every situation. That he will hear us and he will help us. And I believe it.

But what about the child who prays for food. But food doesn't come.

What about the child who prays for healing. But her mom still dies.

So I tried to tell the children. Call on Jesus. He will help you. He might not take it away, but he will be there with you.

And as for the meaningless?

Soloman concludes in Ecclesiastes that having a relationship with the creator of the universe is the only thing that gives meaning to the meaningless. Hope to the hopeless. Life to the dying.

"Remember him (your Creator) before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral." Ecc. 11:5b

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