Here’s the second part of our study on Ecclesiastes… to read the first part, click here.
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a clear theme regarding the march of time.
The teacher tells us that:
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever….
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
He tells us that the sun rises and sets each day, the wind blows round and round, and streams flow into the sea yet it is never full. We are not the first humans on the planet and we will not be the last, we don’t face any joys or struggles that are new, in fact ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (1:9).
He continues. Laughter, wine, nice houses, fine jewelry and riches, entertainment – all meaningless! You can live for the weekends, you can live for the parties, you can live for the holidays… but Monday always comes. In fact, it is ‘chasing after the wind’ (1:14).
And more… you work hard for what? The stress of it? The grief and pain? The anxiety of a mind that never rests? To build an empire, to then pass it on to someone who doesn’t care. To earn money and make a name for yourself, when you’ll only be forgotten. In fact, ‘this too is meaningless’ (2:26)
Yes, this is disheartening. We chase after wealth, status, pleasure and success yet no meaning is found in them. Nothing changes. Consider the march of time – no one is even going to remember me in a hundred years time.
OR we could be uplifted.
We could be free.
We could take the pressure off and realise that everything is a simple gift from God – our lives, the lives of those we love, the laughter, the house, the job, the holidays. And yes they won’t last forever so we don’t cling onto them, we enjoy the small things, we become more present, we experience life, we lay down our expectations and we hold things lightly in our hands.
One of my favourite parts in Ecclesiastes is this beautiful poem:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Isn’t it fantastic?
When I read this I sense myself accepting God’s timing with each line. The pressure comes off, I realise I’m not in control and I can breathe.
There is a time for washing and ironing and there’s a time to spend joyous, spontaneous moments with the kids,
There is a time to work, work, work, and there is a time to rest,
There is a time to cook and clean and there’s a time to enjoy your husband’s company,
There is a time for tears but there is also a time for fun,
There is a time for DIY and there is a time for a glass of wine in the garden,
There is a time to speed up and there is a time to slow down.
To find satisfaction in all your toil, the teacher says is ‘a gift from God’ (3:13). Because sometimes we are so caught up in the immediate, but we were made for the infinite! ‘He has set eternity in the human heart’ (3:11)! So there will be a time to invest in the immediate (the jobs will always need doing, people will always need seeing) yet God is concerned with our heart condition and how we approach these times so he can get us ready for an eternity with him!
OVER TO YOU…
- Read chapters 1-3 again.
Do you relate to filling your life with work, pleasure, success, wealth? What is God saying to you about that?
From the poem, which line do you relate to most and why?
- Look out for the next installment, 26/8/19