What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure for ever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
And I saw something else under the sun:
in the place of judgment – wickedness was there,
in the place of justice – wickedness was there.
I said to myself,
‘God will bring into judgment(Eccl. 3:9-17 NIV)
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.’
What is past for us is not past for God. What God does will endure forever.
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.(Eccl. 3:14 NIV)
God is eternal and He has set eternity in our hearts. It is this that teaches that this time is not all there is. We live with a tension of wanting to make this life significant – to leave our mark in this world, and sensing that there is something more than this life. We labour and endeavour in the busyness of this life but find our plans frustrated because of the notion of eternity that we cannot fully grasp.
The wisdom that the preacher would teach us is that we should accept that we have only very limited access to the eternal picture. We cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
It is not that God deliberately keeps us in the dark, it is just that we are not built to understand the eternal picture because we live in time and God does not. One further reminder that God is God, and I am not.
The tapestry of life is not just the tapestry of my individual life, but my life is woven into the tapestry of the whole history of redemption – a multitude of lives from thousands of generations – a catalogue of unspeakable sorrows and untold joys. These are woven into a tapestry that God makes beautiful in its time. If I cannot understand the single tapestry that is my life, how could I possibly comprehend the tapestry of the whole history of redemption. In the face of such finitude we should bow down and acknowledge that, ‘God knows best.’ Really, I am not to be trusted because I am too small in the grand scheme of God’s plan of redemption. I must stop trying to trust me and learn to trust God.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil– this is the gift of God.(Eccl. 3:12-13 NIV)
But how can I keep my head down and enjoy my lot in life because there is such injustice out there? Again, we can rest in God because God will call the past to account. Wickedness may reign in the place of judgement and justice in this time but beyond time God will bring all into judgement.
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.”(Eccl. 3:17 NIV)
I can’t know and I can’t possibly understand all the twists and turns of the rhythms of the seasons, therefore I should be content with not knowing and simply trusting. Who am I that God should share with me what He is doing in my life? I just don’t have the capacity to take this all in.
I am to live in the light that after death there will be judgement.
‘So much of the time we use our times to seek satisfaction, rather than living in the times God has given and so receiving satisfaction from Him as a gift.’ ‘Satisfaction lodges in my heart when I accept the boundaries of my creaturely existence and accept the seasons of my life as coming from His good and wise hands.’
Lord, simply trusting every day is not so simple because we have made it complicated. We have taken on responsibility for that which we cannot possibly control. Lord help us and bring us back to simply trusting every day for Christ the Saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.