“But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked. . .” (Ecc. 9:1-2, ESV).
“This, too, I carefully explored—that godly and wise men are in God’s will; no one knows whether he will favor them or not. All is chance!” (vv. 1, TLB)
Everything around us in our lives is not by chance. As we examine our lives and those around us, we quickly discover that certain things affect us all, without discrimination. Rich or poor. Devoted followers of Jesus Christ or pagan. For example, death comes for us all. Some are affected by chronic illness or violence. All of these difficulties and hardships can come into our lives at various times without warning.
Works of God
One truth made clear throughout the Scriptures stands out to me, and that is we are lovingly placed into the hands of our heavenly Father. God knows and sees everything that happens on earth. The writer even mentions this in the previous chapter (Eccl. 8:16-17). The writer announces, “then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun (Eccl. 8:17a, ESV).”
While we may deeply desire to do so, we cannot discover all the works of God. While God may give us clues, we won’t fully understand His thoughts or ways until we reach Heaven (Deuteronomy 29:29).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord (Is. 55:8, NIV).
Understanding God’s ways is vital. If we want to understand the intended meaning of this verse, we have to be willing to admit that we aren’t God.
The God I Know
God is sovereign and the One who is running the show. The Lord alone will give us strength to make it to the finish line. He is the One helping us to overcome all of the difficulties we face in our lives. He is helping us with the things no one else knows about, along with the things that we are too emotional even to begin to talk about.
Chronic illness, for one, can befall any one of us. As a chronic illness suffer and writer, I know this is true. While it is true, it doesn’t mean I give up. When one gets sick, it becomes a teaching ground.
J.C. Ryle said, “The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.”
We should choose to respond differently than non-believers when we go through our own school of difficulties. During such times, we should commit by God’s grace to respond to them by seeing them as fuel for our own growth in His grace.
Because of Jesus
There is One in Jesus who we are to focus our attention upon. We have One in Jesus who during the time of the writing of Ecclesiastes had not come yet. Jesus Christ appeared on the scene in bodily form hundreds of years after Solomon’s search for worldly satisfaction. Jesus Christ has been working all things out for our ultimate good, far before He came to earth. Jesus was present at the beginning of creation, came to be the Savior of the world, and is now present with His people today. Jesus Christ is the great Messiah who has radically changed everything in His sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection, and who now alone offers eternal life both in the present to sinners through adoption and most fully in heaven where He will fully glorify His friends.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1-2, ESV).
Through Jesus Christ, God’s people have reconciliation with God. No longer are we at enmity and war with God. Now through Christ, we can now know and serve God. This peace Jesus gives to us now will last for eternity. We have the presence of God and His strength to help us overcome today’s hardships in the present, along with victory over our sins and life’s obstacles.
I am thrilled God didn’t stop with this book of the Bible. Instead, He kept writing the redemptive story and showing us His the scarlet thread of His love through the love letter that is His Word. The Lord has promised to stay with those who follow and obey Jesus. Regardless of our circumstances today, God is writing the greatest testimony and love story of all time – between us, and our great Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed and reconciled us to God.