Disappointed with Life

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You are not a God who is far away, but that You have entered so deeply.

 

Read:ECCLESIASTES 3:16-4:12

[16] And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment-wickedness was there, in the place of justice-wickedness was there. [17] I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” [18] I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. [19] Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. [20]All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. [21] Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” [22] So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? [1] Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed- and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors- and they have no comforter. [2] And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. [3] But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun. [4] And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. [5] Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. [6] Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. [7] Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: [8] There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless- a miserable business! [9] Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: [10] If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. [11] Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? [12] Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 

 

Reflect:HOW DOES THE TEACHER SUM UP WHAT HE OBSERVES?

Viewing life through a wide-angle lens, the Teacher is saddened by corruption in the courts (3:16) and merciless oppression of the powerless (4:1). In his book Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey quotes his long-suffering friend, Douglas: “We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair.’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life… I set myself up for a crashing disappointment” (India: OM Books, 2001). In spite of his disappointments with life, the Teacher does not confuse God with life; instead, he affirms that God is just (3:17).Switching to a telephoto lens, the Teacher zooms in on life at a personal level, only to be disillusioned once again. A man labors long, but his toil is motivated by envy (4:4), hard work fails to bring lasting satisfaction, and a wealth of riches fails to compensate for lack of relationships (4:8). Yet the Teacher discerns some silver linings: first, the contentment that comes when there is no greed and grasping (4:6; see also 1 Tim. 6:6); second, the blessedness of friendships that strengthen and support (4:9-12).

 

APPLY

Thank God that his love and justice extend far beyond the unfairness of life. Pray for an ability to see his purposes.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, help me to be someone who walks honestly and lovingly with others who are hurt and disillusioned by life.

 

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