28 October 2009

It Really is About Perspective

What Ecclesiastes Told Me Today (parts of chapters 4, 5 and 6)

God has given men: “a sense of the past and future, but no comprehension of God’s work from the beginning to end." This should tell us that we live in a state of unawareness. Our comprehension of today, yesterday and tomorrow in not only limited, but it also distorted. We view time through the lenses of our thought-life and that means we focus on what is important to me now. Whether it has any real importance becomes a moot question when we pour our energy into our understanding what is valuable from the eternal perspective.
Ecclesiastes states it quite simply-God wishes us to “be happy and live the best life while you’re still alive.” That seems to easy, doesn’t it? It reiterates this several times: we need to eat and drink-and enjoy the rest that comes after work: “this is a gift from God.”
Ecclesiastes reminds me of who God is-He is not to be trifled with. As Lord and Creator, Eternal Judge, He is not just my pal. Ready for a good joke, a quick promise, just as quickly broken, or a sincere and well-intentioned “recommitment” that is superficial. He’d rather I take the time to consider Him well than to make bold statements about my spirituality, to ponder Him than to take my theological stand. In short, He’s not easily impressed.
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Ecclesiastes tells me that what exists in the course of normal life has always existed: the same struggles, the same joys, the same defeats, the same victories, and satisfactions. Nothing is truly new. For example, where justice should be, we’ll find wickedness; and where righteousness should be, there is wickedness, too. People have been oppressed forever-and comforters are few. It reminds me that everyone is under someone’s authority-and not to be shocked at oppression when I see it.
For all our intelligence and superiority as humans, we all die, like wild animals do. Not only do not know what tomorrow will bring, but we do not know when we will die.
Further, it tells me that the intelligentsia-those superior humans who are so gifted and talented they are smart in everything-have no true advantage. No matter how much they learn, that for all their advantages, they’re giving nothing to those after them. They are here on earth for a short time and then they are gone.
The kind of work that has striving and over-achievement written all over it comes from rivalry between men. That kind of labor is unsatisfying. Indeed, it’s as good as chasing the wind-as elusive. It states that the man who labors to achieve yet lacks friends, brothers or sons never actually attains fulfillment. He has wealth and loneliness. It states what he does have simply:“emptiness.”
It says that the man who loves wealth can never get enough of It. And, not only that, but if he’s in love with it, he actually gets no pleasure from it. Wealth is attracts all sorts of people, seeking to siphon off that wealth. The surprising baggage of wealth is a restless sleep. Thinking they’re stockpiling wealth for their family and grandchildren, they rarely consider how they will have wasted their life the day that their luck runs out, the week when the unthinkable actually happens and come to nothing. What will they have spent their life on when they wake up to find they’ve spent their life for nothing? All that energy and time, and time and work, none of which can be regained. The pity is that is the loss is not the wealth, but the time, lost forever. Wealth can be regained, but time can never be returned to you. All his energies and life spent on gaining money which will be worthless anyway when he dies. It reminds me that working for wealth is like a dirty rag:because it is dirty, is a breeding ground for infestation. Similarly, wealth, for all its seeming innocent gilding, is infested. It is infested with problems: decisions, defending, guarding and scheming, to name a few. It tells me that joining with these problems and clustering together come other things: gnawing anxiety, stresses, sometimes sickness and, (because it’s all about competition) feelings of resentment.
God has given you one life—time and people are most precious to you. Whether you are rich or poor, of great rank or an unknown, it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things, for you are known to God. Take the good things in this world and enjoy what He has given you in the time He has given you: don’t stress over how long a life you will have-none of us really know how long we have anyway.
Rather, pay attention to what God has given you, and be thankful. In fact, if a man “has it all” – wealth, a large family, live a long life-but if he doesn’t actually enjoy his blessings, then his life was pointless.

We are not producers, we are not here to perform or turn up in a talent search of some sort, but rather, we are to see what we do have and be grateful for it.
Who said Ecclesiastes was depressing?


© Charity Johnson