Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 8

I’m not suite sure what to take from this chapter. For the first time in a long time, I have studied a chapter for this blog and I really don’t know what to write. Chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes continues the general theme of much of life being meaningless, but if you can take even a small measure of joy from the suffering that we must go through in this life you should treasure it. We are powerless, but as I explained yesterday, we can relish this powerlessness. I know I have plenty of things that worry me pretty much from the moment I get up until I fall asleep in the morning. If I can let God handle some of those things it is one less thing to concern me.

That may be the most important underlying lesson of this entire book even if it hasn’t been directly stated yet. I was drawn to this book because I am at a period in my life where I feel like many things are meaningless. I toil away at many things where no progress ever seems to be made. Just yesterday I received a grievous insult along the lines of me wasting four years of my life. I was told that college was pointless. I told the person I was offended because that basically meant I had wasted four years of my life on something I was very proud of. It hurt not only because of that, but because I felt that maybe they were right since I am nowhere near where I want to be professionally six years after graduating. Does it feel like a waste? Yes, some days it does.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night- 17 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 8:16-17

This tells me that to enjoy life, it takes a conscious effort to surrender our will, even our very lives, to the Will of God. We can’t even begin to comprehend what happens here. Like this chapter states earlier, those who are wicked can achieve much while those who are righteous can have their lives cut short. As an extreme example, Hitler is one of the most wicked men that ever lived, yet he had immeasurable power for years and very nearly conquered a good portion of the world before he was defeated.

Conversely, there have been many people who have followed God, but have had to suffer immensely for it. Eleven of the 12 disciples eventually died a martyrs’ death, with only John living to old age. Even then, he was forced to live in exile from society on the island of Patmos in the Mediterranean. Is this fair? Of course it is not fair. It is what God calls us to do, however. Each role we serve is different. I have found, though, that it is when I am serving my role to my fullest, whether it gains me personal glory or not, is when I am happiest.

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