During the hurricane in Texas I heard a miraculous story. This couple went to Chic-fil-A everyday for a breakfast burrito. They became known by the staff and always ordered their usual. When the hurricane hit, many businesses were closed including this one. The elderly couple was trapped in their home with the first floor being completely flooded with a couple feet of water. Emergency personnel were so tapped it wasn’t possible for someone to come and help them out of their home.
On an inkling or what I would call a divine appointment by the spirit, the man called Chic-fil-A. The manager who was only there checking on the business as it was closed heard the phone ring and recognized the name as being one of the regulars who came in. He answered and was given the usual order to include a boat. Miraculously the manager knew of a jet ski and was able to go help this couple get out of their home. Some would call this a coincidence, but I believe this was a God ordained appointment.
There was no doubt things were bad for this couple, but God never forgot them. God had the perfect plan with the perfect strategy just for them. It’s easy to read this and be happy for this couple, but what about you? Do you find yourself knee deep in disaster with seemingly no hope on the horizon?
Let’s go through Ecclesiastics 6 (MSG) to understand Solomon’s perspective a little more.
“1-2 I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it. There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything—money, property, reputation—all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn’t let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It’s more of what I’m calling smoke. A bad business.
3-5 Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves—even though they end up with a big funeral! I’d say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal. It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark—unnamed. It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living.
6 Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?
7 We work to feed our appetites;
Meanwhile our souls go hungry.
8-9 So what advantage has a sage over a fool, or over some poor wretch who barely gets by? Just grab whatever you can while you can; don’t assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind.
10 Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed.
You can’t argue with fate.
11-12 The more words that are spoken, the more smoke there is in the air. And who is any better off? And who knows what’s best for us as we live out our meager smoke-and-shadow lives? And who can tell any of us the next chapter of our lives?
There is no doubt Solomon is in a low place. He feels life is useless and things are bad. He’s broken and struggling. We have all been broken a time or two. Sometimes we put ourselves in our own circumstance and other times it is unavoidable. I find it hard to imagine one of the wealthiest and powerful people of the time was absolutely miserable. Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastics, Songs of Solomon, and Proverbs. Yes proverbs, the very person who felt such despair has given encouraging messages for centuries.
How can a person write the painful despair in Ecclesiastics and also write the wisdom in Proverbs?
Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.”
This isn’t an instruction of hopelessness instead Ecclesiastics was written to teach us how to relate. Jesus spoke in parables. Solomon spoke from personal observation. Solomon was noted in 1 Kings to having spoken over 3,000 proverbs and over 1,000 songs. Not to mention his wealth and being one of the wisest men ever on earth. When he says things are bad, it’s true, things are always bad. The question is, how you are supposed to respond to those things?
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Solomon related to the three main principles which lead people astray in life, pursuit of riches, pursuit of instant gratification, and release of sorrows through alcohol. He ruled from 960-922 B.C.E. With that being said, there are no exact dates known, but roughly Solomon authored Song of Solomon sometime between 970-930, obviously his younger years. He wrote Proverbs around 950 then Ecclesiastics was roughly 931. Toward the end of his life.
This was evidence of an internal struggle as he looked back on his life. Regardless he ends the book by saying: Ecclesiastics 12:13-14 (MSG) “When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil.”
He never negated what he had written in the past. Instead he was relating to everyone. He closed by speaking about keeping Gods commandments, and worshiping God because in the end you have to justify your actions before God.
God’s desire is for you to stand in the midst of the battle when things are bad and look upon the horizon for hope, joy, peace and fulfillment. Let’s go through several of the Proverbs for a minute for personal reflection:
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Those who have no sense deride their neighbors, but those who have understanding hold their tongues.
Proverbs 21:1 (NIV)
That promise if for each one of you. Things are never too bad. Things are never too difficult for God and not one demon in the pit of hell or a million running behind him can stop you with the power you have in Christ Jesus.
Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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