How Do I Respond?

From the efforts to impeach President Trump, the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, the protests against police brutality and racism, the riots, the canceling of culture, the questionable charges of murder against a police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks, to the recent supreme court rulings, it seems impossible for me to make sense of what is going on in our country over the past six months. What is my responsibility and how should I respond to all that is happening?

It appears that Solomon wondered the same thing in his day as we find his wisdom expressed in Ecclesiastes 8. I have copied the chapter below from The Message. In this chapter, I find at least five nuggets of wisdom for how you and I should respond to our current situation. Can you find them?

1 There’s nothing better than being wise, knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners.

2-7 Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don’t worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You’re serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, “What are you doing?” Carrying out orders won’t hurt you a bit; the wise person obeys promptly and accurately. Yes, there’s a right time and way for everything, even though, unfortunately, we miss it for the most part. It’s true that no one knows what’s going to happen, or when. Who’s around to tell us?

No one can control the wind or lock it in a box. No one has any say-so regarding the day of death. No one can stop a battle in its tracks. No one who does evil can be saved by evil.

All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that’s going on in this world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is.

10 One time I saw wicked men given a solemn burial in holy ground. When the people returned to the city, they delivered flowery eulogies—and in the very place where wicked acts were done by those very men! More smoke. Indeed.

11 Because the sentence against evil deeds is so long in coming, people in general think they can get by with murder.

12-13 Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I’m still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a “good” life. No matter how many days he lives, they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn’t fear God.

14 Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke.

15 So, I’m all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth.

16-17 When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it.

Ok, did you find them? Here’s my take away. Even if you and I had access to all the world’s wisdom, the wisest man would know very little. No one can fully comprehend what God is doing. There will always be more questions than answers. We mustn’t allow the unknown to cast a shadow over our joy, faith, or work since we can be confident in the providence and sovereignty of a God who loves us. Don’t let the fear of an uncertain tomorrow rob you of the abundant life Jesus wants you to enjoy today.

Clinging to faith like a child, Mike Altena


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