Ecclesiastes: An Encouraging Word!
Are you finding Ecclesiastes to be a depressing book or a book of comfort? I was encouraged to receive this note from someone in the church who is finding the book of Ecclesiastes to be a book of great comfort. Hopefully her words will be of encouragement to you as well.
She writes . . .
“I just wanted to tell you that I am really enjoying this sermon series, and was quite relieved that I am not the only one who has Ecclesiastes as one of my favorite books! When I mentioned to my small group that Ecclesiastes was a favorite, some thought I was being facetious, and when I said I found it comforting rather than depressing, some looked at me as if I had grown two heads! :-)
I couldn't really articulate why I like it so much or why I find it comforting. Reading Ecclesiastes just felt like a steadying force, especially when my circumstances felt so out of control, and wrong, and God felt far away. Listening yesterday clarified it a little bit for me.
Understanding "vanity" defined as "mist," or "vapor" makes a lot of sense. Thinking about it this week, a picture that keeps popping into my mind is of a fogging mist surrounding a solid, steady core. All of those circumstances in my own life, all those things that the Preacher explores and investigates - they ARE just a mist, a vapor, unsteady, forever changing, and not within our control. They hide the core, the Rock, the solidness of what our real life in Christ is. It’s like the mist is a fog - it's real, as our circumstances are real, but it is not the true life. Reading Ecclesiastes always seems to remind me of the Rock, not the mist, especially when I feel like I'm drowning in "uncontrollable" circumstances. (i.e., blurring the line between the Creator and the creature..)
I even found it comforting to think of the endless repetition - there is nothing new under the sun. When everything does feel out of control, the rivers will still flow to the sea, the wind will come around again, the sun will rise and set, rise and set. Those things didn't feel depressing - they felt steadying. There is nothing new under the sun - all those things that felt out of control - someone, somewhere, in some time, went through them before me. "What has been is what will be..." I am not the first. Someone will go through them again - I am not alone in my experiences and feelings and thoughts. And God was with them, and He is with me. Those were some of the comforts that I couldn't articulate, but felt nonetheless.
And even the idea that all I have to do (and not me, but God - it's a gift from Him) - is to "eat, drink, and enjoy my toil." That's a burden off for me - God sets out my work in front of me, one thing at a time - and I need only to do it. I often felt so responsible - especially for the outcome of my children. It was comforting to be reminded that, ultimately, when I try to manipulate, control, affect any outcome - I am "striving after the wind." It's not a reminder that circumstances are hopeless - it just felt like a reminder that while I am not in control, but God is.”
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