Life’s Enigmas (Part 6)

Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:10 ESV). The next verse in the wisdom of the Preacher gives us the third practical step to take in developing a life of joy. I must warn you that it is much easier to talk about than it is to actually do consistently. We should cast away our cares. Look at our reading today. He says, “Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are an enigma.” The verbs to “remove” and to “put away” identify that finding joy at all times, even in the days of darkness, requires that we decide not to allow the burdens, confusions, vexations, and troubles of this life to wear us down. The Preacher is not calling us to act as though life is a party when in fact it’s pain. No, he recognizes that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (c f. Ecclesiastes 3:4). We don’t ignore human troubles, but we must not allow them to consume us. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life. . . . Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (cf. Matthew 6:25-26). The opposite of boldness is fear or anxiety. It’s not surprising then that God not only calls us to be bold for Christ and his kingdom, but he also makes a provision for us to get rid of our fear and anxiety. Giving us courage and taking our fear are two ways of doing the same thing. Remember that I said it was easier to talk about than to do. The reason for that is casting your anxiety on God is somehow tied directly to humbling yourself. Casting your anxiety on God is crucial if you are going to humble yourself under God’s hand and clothe yourself with humility toward each other. Casting your anxiety on God is not simply a separate thing that you do after you humble yourself. It’s something you do in order to humble yourself, or in the process of humbling yourself. There is something about humbling yourself under God’s hand and humbling yourself before other people that makes casting all your anxiety on God necessary. Or to say it another way, there is something about casting your anxiety on God that makes humbling yourself under God and before others possible. I like to think of it in terms of my “pay grade.” In a spiritual sense we simply don’t have the ability or position to be able to remove anxiety from our lives. That position and power resides solely with God. He is the only one with that ability and responsibility. The sooner we recognize that we can’t do it, the sooner we can capture peace and joy from the release of that burden. It really is above our pay...

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