I recently had a friend ask me “Why has God abandoned my family?”. Still another asked “Will I ever see my children again?” A third is going through the pain of separation after taking a stand for their faith and breaking up a long time relationship when a promised commitment never materialized. As a pastor, I see a lot of hurt. Still, it’s okay to ask the question “Why?”
Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books in the bible because it was written by a man who had reached the pinnacle of God’s blessing only to make a series of horrible choices and fall to the lowest of lows before realizing what life truly was all about. King Solomon was the son of David and the wisest man in all of Scripture and yet, even he questioned the cycles of life. Here are just a smattering of quotes from this wise King:
I decided to learn how wisdom and knowledge are better than thinking foolish thoughts. But I learned that trying to become wise is like trying to catch the wind.
(Ecclesiastes 1:17 ERV)
So I decided to fill my body with wine while I filled my mind with wisdom. I tried this foolishness because I wanted to find a way to be happy. I wanted to see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.
(Ecclesiastes 2:3 ERV)
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy.
(Ecclesiastes 3:4 ERV)
In the end, Solomon realized that this life and all that we do is a preparation for the one that is coming after we die:
Remember your Creator while you are young, before the bad times come–before the years come when you say, “I have wasted my life.”
(Ecclesiastes 12:1 ERV)
Your body came from the earth. And when you die, it will return to the earth. But your spirit came from God, and when you die, it will return to him.
(Ecclesiastes 12:7 ERV)
I don’t have all the answers. It’s okay to say that. When I counsel with others I tell them that many things in this life have to be taken on faith. God sees suffering and time in a different way. We cannot control many of the things that come at us. Both of my parents came from broken homes, my wife’s father was an alcoholic who destroyed the family bond, and my wife’s oldest brother died in his early 40’s after years of bad choices and his body finally beat up with the ravages of those decisions.
What we can control is our reaction. The late Jim Rohn would call this our “philosophy” of life. We can choose to take the bad and make good from it or we can continue to associate with destructive people and choices and, like King Solomon, come to our middle age years wondering if we have wasted our lives.
I choose to live in Joy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get depressed at times. I’ve cried a lot recently over many of the things happening to those around me that I care for. I’ve had extended periods of being down and out. I’ve felt like Elijah on the mountain crying out to God for some relief (1 Kings 19). Still, I can live in Joy knowing that one day I will live in eternal bliss with the King of Kings. For now, my life call is to bring hope to others. It will get better. “Joy coming in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5).
Have a great day…Serve someone!