Life’s Enigmas (Part 3)

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:15-18 ESV). Today we begin to look at the foundation of joy in our lives. When the writer of Ecclesiastes opens and closes his book he does so with a very specific declaration. We find it in our reading today. He talks about the “vanity” of life. He means that all things in this world are enigmatic or mysterious. This is why six times he accompanies the term with the phrase, “striving after wind” or “a shepherding of wind.” Trying to get our minds around all that God is doing in this world is like trying to shepherd wind. I would say it is like “herding cats.” Just when we think we’ve got them going in the right direction, together, they decided to go in different directions. As finite creatures, we are not able to grasp all that God is doing in this world, and this is deeply grieving. All that has come and all that will be bears a level of enigma that only adds to life’s frustrations and pains. The Preacher says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). He also writes, “When I applied my heart to know wisdom . . . then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out” (Ecclesiastes 8:16-17). All of life is an enigma. Yet in such a context, we must pursue joy, grasping every opportunity we have to see the light of God and using the moments to sustain us through seasons of trial and pain. Life’s sweet moments keep us balanced, reminding us that not all is lost. If you can see light today, embrace it, savor it, celebrate it, and use it in your fight for sustained God-conscious joy. If you find yourself in one of the many dark days of this life, struggling to discern God’s purposes, pause to recall past mercy, see it as a gift of God, and use it to instill heightened desire and hope for fresh mercies at dawn. It is in the celebration of those wonderful moments that we find real...

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