Ship your grain across the sea;
after many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain on the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning,(Eccl. 11:1-6 NIV)
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.
We often pride ourselves about the level of knowledge we have and how savvy we are when it comes to decision making. The Preacher wants to get us to face the reality that we don’t know as much as we think we do. The Preacher is not opposed to commerce or speculative investment, but he wants to remind us how little we know. We can’t be sure that our exports won’t get lost at sea or fraudulently embezzled by rogue forces in the importing country. The Preacher recommends a diverse portfolio of investments because who knows what disaster might come upon a country.
Of course, there are some mostly predictable things, like the clouds full of water bringing rain or when a tree in a forest falls, whether that be to the North or South, generally speaking that’s where it is going to lie. We should however not take these things for granted because we cannot know for certain. Humans have no control over the rain nor the falling of a tree in a forest.
Wealth is not an inherent problem, but it becomes a problem when it replaces God.
We watch the wind. Will it blow, will it abate? We don’t know. We should do what we have to do. We need to sow seed, we need to reap the harvest, we cannot wait for certainty because it is not possible for us to be certain.
We are so ignorant of so many things. We do not know the details of how God forms the baby in the mother’s womb.
How many times do we hear people saying that they want to know what God is doing, what God wants us to learn from certain experiences? We are quite arrogant, how for one moment can we think that we would ever understand what God is doing? The Preacher wants us to get on with life, sow the seed, reap the harvest, who knows what God might do? How God works out His purposes in detail may escape us, but our ignorance does not stop the result, nor should it prevent our wholehearted involvement in life to the glory of God.
We must earnestly and diligently get into life’s work. It is enough to know, as far as the progress and results of our work are concerned, that God is also at work. It is enough to know that He has given us the knowledge of the broad spectrum of His plan. Therefore, we will not deliberately withhold our energies or refrain from working. That small amount of admitted mystery in the divine plan will not hinder us from becoming active in life to the glory of God.
Lord help us to accept our limitations of what it is possible for us to know. We spend so much time in prayer pleading for insight and knowledge about Your way of working in our lives. Help us Lord to continue to do what our hand finds to do and trust Your providence for the lot in life that You have given us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.