Encouragement from Ecclesiastes
In these unprecedented times there is so much to be gained by turning to God’s word. The often neglected book of Ecclesiastes has so much wisdom for us during this pandemic. I pray these six truths would encourage your soul. There is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:9–10, ESV) We are not the first generation to experience a pandemic like this. There was Spanish Flu in 1918, Black Death in 1346, Bubonic Plague in 541, and many more. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon ministered in London during the cholera outbreak of 1854. Michael Kruger, in his book Christianity at the Crossroads chronicles how Christians gained a reputation in the second century for sticking around during times of plague and ministering to the sick and dying. Finally, Martin Luther, during a deadly plague sweeping through his hometown in 1527 wrote about how he would ask for God’s protection, and then he would take precautionary measures of social distancing unless his presence was absolutely necessary. This is certainly unprecedented for our lifetimes, but we are not unique. And that is encouraging. “Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” - Ecclesiastes 7:2 In the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes Solomon tells us that wisdom is found more in places of mourning and sorrow than in those of feasting and joy. He is right. In our modern culture how often do we think about death? And yet every single one of us will face it if Jesus does not return in our lifetimes. One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to keep us from thinking about the fact that we will all die one day. But if we are in Christ death is nothing to fear. It is simply a nap… a path we all must take… a crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land that awaits us. Death means seeing our Lord, our Savior, our friend face to face!
“A time to be born, and a time to die… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” - Ecclesiastes 3:2,4 For those of us who are young we may not be worried about our own death but rather we fear the possibility of losing our parents or grandparents. However, we are reminded that if we live long enough, at some point we must say goodbye to them all. While we would rather it not be now, we must recognize that there is never a “good time” to be forced to say goodbye to a loved one. Facing up to this truth is crucial, and better we face up to it sooner than later. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, ESV) During this time of uncertainty, financial hardship, job loss, and perhaps grief, I am so thankful to have a church family. We have one another. We are committed to seeing every single one of our members through this, no matter what it takes. You are not alone. Be encouraged. Be ready to pick up a brother or sister when they need help. And do not be ashamed to lean on your brothers and sisters when you face troubles yourself.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other... (Ecclesiastes 7:14, ESV) As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. (Ecclesiastes 11:5, ESV) Through all of this, never forget, God is in control. This did not surprise him. And for anything that happens in this world, he could have prevented it if he chose to. Yet he has allowed this pandemic. Why? We will certainly never know all, or even most of his reasons. But we do know this: God is good… God is wise… and God loves his children immeasurably more than we can imagine. And that knowledge alone is enough to see us through. Trust him.
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. (Ecclesiastes 3:5, ESV) Just a friendly reminder from Solomon to continue to practice social distancing!