Life’s Enigmas (Part 1)

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-8 ESV) With the passing of another birthday, I have begun to think of some of the enigmas of life. The best place in the Scripture to go to explore those things that make us wonder about the truth of the promises of joy in life is the writing of the Preacher, Ecclesiastes. If ever you have read the questions, confessions, and exhortations in this book, you likely would echo Peter regarding Paul’s letters that “there are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). I have felt this way many times, but in this book I have also found amazing fuel for stoking fires of joy in my soul that have carried me through seasons of pleasure and deep pain. I believe the Preacher has a message for us today that is very practical regarding our pursuit of pleasures in God. Once we finish this little series, you may come to the same conclusion as I have in that perhaps more than any other voice in the Old Testament, the speaker in Ecclesiastes was a Preacher of Joy. No doubt he was a realist, who felt great evil and stood angry and frustrated by his inability to understand all of God’s purposes. Don’t we often face circumstances that would bring us to the same feelings?  Unstable jobs, orphans, judicial corruption, blown tires, broken legs, sex-trafficking, leaky faucets, failed adoptions, monthly bills, envy, project deadlines, rainy vacations, broken marriages, chronic back pain, pride, pornography, slippery roads, severed relationships, selfishness, racism, bee stings, abortions, and the ever present death of loved ones. This is our world. This was the Preacher’s world. Yet even in the midst of it, he could still call people to rejoice always in the pleasures of life and to do so recognizing them as a gift of God. I want to begin a look at the Preacher’s call to rejoice and to consider how he thought joy was possible in this cursed, crooked, and confusing world.  Today simply start your thoughts down the path of the questions you have in life. Tomorrow we’ll start finding some of the answers. It begins with an unshakable trust in God’s direction for you as an...

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