The chaos, the tears, the frustration, and the unknown. All you know is that God loves you and that He is working all things for your good (Romans 8:28), but right now it just feels like you’re an ant and God is a kid with a magnifying glass. You’re tired, desperately needing rest- physically and spiritually. You need a minute to just be still and rest in Him, but you look at your laundry list of things to do and the moment of peace slips away. You are trying your hardest and doing your best, yet it seems like you’re running and getting nowhere. It seems like all of your efforts are in vain. You’re tempted to scream to see if anyone would even notice. You feel small, alone, and drowning in life’s challenges and responsibilities. You lay your head down at night but you cannot find sleep because thoughts of what you have to accomplish tomorrow dance around in your head. You feel the sting of tears as they stream from your heavy eyes. You try to push through and wear a smile even though you are so weak and weary on the inside…
If this sounds like you, or something similar to it, there is good news: you are not alone. Some people find the book of Ecclesiastes to be depressing, but I find it as one if the most encouraging books of the Bible. It may be true that “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new… We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” Ecclesiastes 1:9,11. This may sound abysmal to you, but I find that it gives me confidence that I will overcome whatever hardship I face and nobody, not even me, will recall how terrible it was once it is over. How often do we go through hardships and look back and think to ourselves “it was worth it” or “I would do it again in a heartbeat?” It may be annoying to think that way in the midst of a difficult time, but I think that it is the right thing to do. In fact, I was inspired to write this blog today because I was feeling exactly what the introductory paragraph illustrated.
Frankly, I’m tired of this pity party I’m having for myself. I’m not saying that it is wrong to communicate your problems to people when you truly need encouragement or prayer, but did you read that intro? I mean, really, there came a point when I realized that I am not glorifying God through this, which I am commanded to do as taught in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “so whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I was not being joyful- I was completely disheartened; I was not praying- I was complaining; I was not thankful- I was dissatisfied, despite my abounding blessings.
I was reminded today of how much Jesus loves me. Have you given that much thought lately? How much He sincerely cares for you? There is an abundance of lovely songs that illustrate this truth- just off of the top of my head a short list comes to mind: How He Loves Us, How Deep the Fathers Love for Us, the classic hymn O How He Loves You and Me… Shoot, as children we all learn the simple song “Jesus Loves Me”- that’s going to be stuck in your head for a few days now- you’re welcome. This lyrical masterpiece includes the phrase “for the Bible tells me so,” which is so simple but is something that we must cling to. So, if you ever find that you do feel some semblance of my introductory paragraph, reflect on this:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT
“Because your love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” Psalm 63:3 NLT
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b NLT
“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. The will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NLT
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it… You are sensible people, judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-17, ESV.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT
Getting back to the ever-cheerful book of Ecclesiastes, it is written in chapter 3, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under the sun.” My favorite verses are 4 and 7 of that chapter, “a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance… A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” But if you explore a little bit further you will find, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. “ Did you get that? It is a promise of uncertainty because we are mere humans. It is impossible for us to comprehend what God is working together for us and for eternity.
Do not forget whom you were created by and what your purpose is here on earth. “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7) Therefore, I will conclude this the way that the writer of Ecclesiastes concluded the third chapter, “There is nothing better than to be joyful and do good as long as you live.”