I’m learning that it’s wise to keep several books in active que. I just finished a book that I started four years ago. Yes, I am a slow reader, but I also took long breaks. It seems God has me pick a book up or put it down according to what I need to hear at the time. It’s amazing that flipping to a bookmark you left off with a year ago, is ready for where you’re at today. Rather than plow through one book after another, I think it best to have several started, bookmarked, and ready for God to pull off your shelf.
Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.
– Ecclesiastes 8.17
“Why?” is probably the most common utterance directed toward God. As intrigued, even troubled, as we may be, we may do best to leave omniscience to God, and accept our place of limited knowing.
If find it interest that in the context of Ecclesiastes 8, urging righteousness despite evil not meeting justice, that the one of the author’s concluding statements is, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun (Ecclesiastes 8.15).”
You’d think that “eat and drink and be glad” would lead to all sorts of trouble. Typically from a religious perspective, having “fun” and being “good” aren’t thought of synonymously. If the overall Ecclesiastes perspective of balance is upheld however, I believe you can enjoy everything you have to the fullest without taking it to excess.
Sacrifice has its place in living God, but so does gladness.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. – Ecclesiastes 9.7-10
If you can cut through the author’s emotional state of frustration, this really is a nice outlook on life.
Enjoy your meals. Enjoy your character. Enjoy your wife. Enjoy your work. Enjoy life.
For some reason, it feels like we often need permission to enjoy.
My family went to the doctor’s office a few weeks back, and learned that we’re having our third boy! I’m happy, my wife if is good, my oldest son is crushed. He wanted a baby sister so bad, and he prayed like it to.
When we got the car, my wife just held him while he sobbed. He really had it out with God to, saying things like, “Why won’t you give me a baby sister. Please God. I prayed for a baby sister. Please God. You’re a bad God.” He was hurt. He was angry. He wasn’t sure what to believe about God.
I’m proud of him for wrestling with theology at just four years of age, but I wish had more answers to give.
Augustine said, “Our souls our restless until we find our rest in Thee.” He was pointing to the drive within in all of us for eternal significance, purpose; a pursuit only fulfilled in reuniting with our maker.
Augustine got the pursuit right, but using the word “rest” might be a little misleading. Ecclesiastes 3.11b says, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Or later in verse 18-22: “I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” Continue reading
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. – Ecclesiastes 1:18
People typically have an obsession with knowing. Sometimes we direct it toward passing circumstances of weather and headline news, other times we want to comprehend the how’s and why’s of the world’s inner workings.
We ought to learn and understand as much as we can, but respect the limits of the pursuit. Even if we were able to find the key that unlocks the meaning of all, it wouldn’t make us happier. The way the world works is sad in many respects. Do we really want to become experts on sadness?
I use to say I’d take a sad reality over a happy delusion any day, but I’m starting to question this. Sometimes we’re just better off not knowing.