“Everything is toil” is what Solomon, the wisest man in the world, laments in Ecclesiastes. Our pastor chose to share some of his most defeatist statements this weekend with quite dramatic flare. The congregation laughed nervously, probably like I, wondering how he was going to turn this one around.
I always have loved Ecclesiastes, which after his summation, seemed weird now. I guess I like it because if even Solomon could weary, why wouldn’t I? If the man who accomplished so much, had the Lord’s favor, and knew everything, could sometimes want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over his head, then it is normal. It is normal to feel tired- to sometimes feel you are running and getting nowhere.
Yet, like many others, when I look at the millions of blessings in my life, I shouldn’t justify my feelings. I should get over it.
This is how I have viewed some of Ecclesiastes and some of life.
It was a blanket of comfort giving me permission to be a little overwhelmed, sometimes tired, and many times exclaiming that life is circular. You get something working well and soon you have to fix it again. You paid taxes for last year and now this year is due. You start eating healthy and then the holidays come and you blow it ….again.
But the difference is that even in reading different chapters in Ecclesiastes I had always had hope. Yes, I take my moments of comfort knowing that everyone faces the weariness of life, but I know it is temporary.
It is why I have the 48 hour rule. If I am worried, frustrated, angry about something, I wait 48 hours. Many things are just emotional reactions to being tired or seeing things from the wrong perspective. Usually the feeling is gone within 48 hours. If it lives through this timeline, then I consider if it may be a real issue.
Hope still lives on strong.
As I sat listening to the pastor recount much of Solomon’s troubles I knew he must have the answer. Nothing is new under the sun…. life is a cycle…. it is all toil.
But, in my heart, hope still lives strong.
Like a mystery novel, I am trying to figure out and solve the case of despair. What will he say to turn this all around?
And I know as you read this you have guessed the answer. Nothing was new under the sun until God gave us His son.
Jesus was new.
His resurrection was brand new and incredulous. If Solomon had been there…
The reason I have always maintained hope, even at the end of despair, is because of Jesus.
- Because of His promises that this world is temporary.
- That our purpose here is to glorify Him. We have a real purpose.
- That we are not alone. The richest of us, the poorest of us, the wisest, and the rest of us.
When things feel dark or lonely in our world, we have someone to go to.
- If business isn’t going well, we pray and listen for God’s plan for our business.
- When we are tired and don’t have any energy left for the race, we pray for Jesus to re-energize us.
- When I don’t have enough willpower, or I am being stingy, or I am short on love and compassion, I pray for the Holy Spirit to please bring His fruits.
Solomon shared because he wanted us to know what he had learned and experienced. And he was right. When all is said and done, the things of this world are temporal and fleeting. If we focus on worldly riches, accomplishments, and emotions we will certainly feel the sting of emptiness.
Our pastor reminded us that we are the beneficiaries of new life– the new life of giving our lives to Jesus. The new life given to us through the Holy Spirit.
So when you don’t know what to do in this life, seek Jesus, where we find life because He gave us His.