Ecclesiastes excels at staring straight into life’s biggest difficulties. In Ecclesiastes 9:7-16, we come face-to-face with the reality that stuff is going to happen that we can’t predict and don’t like. No matter how much we plan or dream about the future, no matter how talented or wealthy we are, no matter how hard we work or how wise our decisions are, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
From our limited perspective “under the sun” (Ecc. 9:11), life is largely made up of steps into the unknown and events out of the blue, any of which may change our lives in a moment. This leads many people to worry and perhaps to seek control over their circumstances. The irony is that trying to take more control usually leads to more worry.
The Bible presents a different approach, which is to look “beyond the sun” to God in humility and trust. Then, even when stuff happens that we can’t predict and don’t like, we can be flexible and keep trusting God. When things are hard, we can say, “God, help me make the most of this anyway.” When people forget us or don’t give us the credit we think we deserve, we can think, “So what? That wasn’t where I was looking for identity and meaning anyway. My identity is in God.”
Living with humility and trust helps us live wholeheartedly and seize the day. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 is one of seven “carpe diem passages” in Ecclesiastes, where Qohelet extols us live each day to the fullest, for the glory of God. (“Carpe diem” is Latin for “seize the day.”) Yes, stuff will happen that we can’t predict and don’t like. But live today to the fullest. Enjoy God’s good gifts; in doing so, we will tap into a significant source meaning in life – simply by finding joy in the journey.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on some questions based on Ecclesiastes 9:7-16. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on God, because he cares for you.” As I consider the uncertainty of the future, what anxieties weigh on my mind? Take a few minutes to write down some of these anxieties. Share them with God and ask Him to help you trust Him for these topics.
Why do I think Qohelet (the author of Ecclesiastes) would mix “carpe diem passages” into the middle of passages that are lamenting the difficulties of life in this broken world?
What difference would it make if I were better able to enjoy the small blessings in life and live fully in the moment, rather than worrying about the future?
If the topics and questions during the Ecclesiastes series are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.