Our fellowship is going through a series on the book of Ecclesiastes, and I had the privilege of recently sharing about chapter 8. While many find this book to be depressing, I personally really enjoy it, because it paints a realistic picture of “life under the sun”, continuously reminding us of a divine perspective in which God enjoins us to enjoy the life he has given us.
The main point that struck me about chapter 8 was the contrast between the wise person, whose hard countenance is changed by their wisdom (v.1) and the unfairness that life under the sun presents us with in our interactions with civil authorities, the way the righteous and wicked don’t seem to get their just desserts, though these are promised by God. That is the reality: life on this fallen planet is and remains patently unfair. We can whine about it like children or accept it like the wise. Those who are wise are serene, they take the evil and the good with equal calm, looking for the hand of God in the situation. They live 1 Thessalonians 5:18, where it says, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (HCSB). This humanly extremely difficult and the wise know that they must depend on God for this. It takes discipline and dedication. I am learning this to a tiny margin as I attempt to apply this reality to my life this year. This verse needs to be paired with Philippians 4:6-7, where we are reminded to bring our requests to God with thanksgiving. Then he will give us the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (ESV) and we will live that serene life of the wise.
So as we face the unfairness of life, rather than whining about it, let us learn to lift our eyes to the mystery of God’s activity in the world and praise Him in everything, even if that feels impossible. If it were impossible, he would not have commanded it.