“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.”
~Ecclesiastes 8:17b (Msg).
This confounding reality is actually very good news, for all of us. Such is the way of life that none get too far ahead or too far behind through the fashion of ‘luck’; only the trying.
We go into any primary or elementary school in the world and we’ll note divisions. Some students are ahead — socially, academically, emotionally — and some are behind. Pride gets to some of the former, and humiliation becomes the latter.
Then in the matter of progression in life these students are thrust from this junior school into middle-school and then onto senior-school; with each change comes fresh chances at ‘equalising’. In Monopoly terms, we go back to “go” without collecting our $200. We all do.
For the one who’s perhaps messed up his or her life in their twenties, life’s not over. Fast forward time ten or fifteen years and they could be just as well ‘ahead’ of those who previously looked down on them with proud disapproval; those who, only now, have tasted a failure or five. There is, now, emotional congruence between the two.
However strange this phenomenon is, it is life.
Failure brings darkness; from darkness a better light is issued; real life is tasted; God equals the score and blessed are we with enhanced understanding.
Ecclesiastes – An ‘Equalising’ Book
The nature of this holy wisdom book — a work that has confused and frustrated many a Christian, scholar and theologian — is around equalisation. It states simply that we cannot work God, or the nature of life, out. Such is life, it appears.
This is not frustrating as much as it’s beautiful. God’s in control.
A life like this favours not one over another. No kings are so gifted not to be apportioned cancer. No pauper is guaranteed misery all their life, for joy is invented within. No one can predict blessing to come into their lives.
Ecclesiastes merely calls our attention to the meaninglessness in striving beyond the strains of our own capacity to engineer the results of life.
A Corrective for Envy
Comparison is the death of us when we take it beyond healthy means or ends. But when we install this truth of life that one is not favoured over another — beyond sensible realms anyway — and that the swings and roundabouts of life turn their way indiscriminately, we’re free from this sin of lack; the propensity to look ever over the comparative fences of life.
This, again, is truly fantastic news for all lowly souls right now. Your time is coming! Those enjoying all the blessing now may continue to do so; and then again things could change. Blessing, so far as it’s personally experienced, comes and goes. Sad is the person at different levels for the blessings enjoyed at some time in the past that are no longer experienced. They had their time but now no longer. (For instance — this must surely help us have compassion on those bankrupts betrayed by the cruel bending of life.)
James was spot on when he said:
“Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it.”
~James 1:10b (Msg).
Our felt experience of life and of God must run beyond where we’re at and what we’ve achieved. God’s not standing for an elevated position for anyone beyond what perhaps the actual circumstances deserve, and even then it can’t be counted on.
Praise God that this Spirit of Life is higher, and ‘fairer,’ than us all.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.