“Hey, how’s it going?”
If you’re like me, that simple question is complicated to answer right now. Personal stress is one thing, but it also feels like every time I read the news, I find out that the world just got a little more chaotic: Explosive politics in our country threatening to divide friends and family. A prolonged pandemic without an end in sight. Wildfires. Flooding. Even the spotted lanternflies in my backyard feel like a harbinger of doom!
Where can we turn for comfort? Well, I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t cracked open the book of Ecclesiastes in a while, now is actually the perfect time to read it again. Maybe you haven’t found it particularly uplifting in the past, but I believe that it was written exactly for people who are tempted to despair about all the terrible things happening around them. I’ve read through Ecclesiastes several times recently, and here are some ways its truths have comforted my soul:
Nothing is new under the sun (1:9). I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear this after all those emails and commercials about “these unprecedented times.” When I dwell on this truth, I remember that God is not surprised about our present circumstances, nor is He ill-equipped to deal with them. And really, we don’t need to be surprised either. Although what we’re living through might seem to be spiraling out of control, it’s actually always been like this, since all the way back to the Fall in Genesis 3.
There is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing (3:5). Yep, it’s right there in your Bible that hugs are going to have a comeback someday! Seriously, though—this whole section in chapter 3 about seasons reminds me that circumstances are temporary and therefore unworthy of either our hope or our despair. Only God, the unchanging One, can be a true foundation for our souls.
God has made the day of adversity too, not just the day of prosperity (7:14). It’s usually pretty easy for me to remember that good things come to us from God. It’s a lot harder to remember and believe that trials and suffering are from His hand as well. This sounds at first like a lousy comfort, but it’s ultimately reassuring. Nothing comes to us that is not part of His plan. God has always sustained His people through tumultuous times, and He will continue to do so until the end.
And that’s just a fraction of what Ecclesiastes has to offer us! Ultimately, it’s a book that accurately describes life in a fallen world, and it reminds us how perfectly God understands what it’s like to be here. We don’t serve some distant deity who’s out of touch with whatever we’re going through: our Savior knows our griefs intimately, and He’s still completely in control. There is a time for everything, and He has set them all.