Joyfully Enduring Life's Inexplicable Mysteries.

We try to understand God's plan, but we can never know all of it; and we couldn't handle that knowledge anyway. Life is full of spiritual mystery. What can and should we do as we live through this reality?

Today's passage (Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:10) is the beginning of the concluding section of the book. Solomon review familiar topics with some new information to settle the reader's heart and encourage us to live with joy.

There is an apparent confusion woven into the work of God: God's treatment of people during their earthly lives does not show whether they have his approval or not (Ecclesiastes 9:1). Solomon's main point is for us not to let mystery rob our joy.

Solomon reminds us that death is imminent in every life (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3). This knowledge can help us learn. How are we to handle life's most tragic moment? Suffering itself can be educational, doxological, revelational, and sacrificial (Isaiah 53:1-12).

Even secular writers recognize the effect that death's imminence has on our lives. Everyone tries to live as if we won't die. Humans aren't designed to embrace change easily. Any amount of change causes unhappiness. And death is the ultimate unavoidable change (Hebrews 9:27). This mystery creates agony in our lives.

Solomon's answer to the question "How can we live with joy?" is to do responsible things while we are alive (Ecclesiastes 9:4, John 9:4). We first must prepare to meet God at our death; then we must embrace the responsibilities He places on believers and live those well. It would be truly sad to live without eternal purpose.

"The consciousness that men will soon die and no longer be able to relate to the joys and needs of this life forces the striking contrast that we see here in verses 5-6. ...Knowledge in this life, rewards for this life, and opportunities for service are serious challenges when viewed from the prospect of our soon to appear death. If men are going to life as if there's no tomorrow in eternity and let their passions and desires have free reign, then they have played the role of a fool."

For a believer, death is a fleeting transition to reward. This should motivate us to be busy about things that matter in eternity!

"Hope that can be destroyed by death is a false hope and must be abandoned."

In Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, Solomon urges us to enjoy God's gift of life in simple ways. "Solomon didn't urge the jet-set life but common things to enjoy right at home." This inspired, preserved wisdom commends the enjoyment of:

  • Happy, leisurely meals eaten together. (See Proverbs 15:17, 17:1.)
  • Celebration (the significance of white clothing in Solomon's culture). This is hard to do by yourself!
  • Marriage. Every blessing is shared, "ours." The purpose to be pursued in marriage is higher than your happiness or expectations.
  • Hard work. This can be applied in the arena of sports, vocation, or any other good pursuit.

"What a contrast these 4 joyful opportunities are compared to society's formula for daily life: fast food, a full schedule, the addictive pursuit of everything new, life-in relationships, and shortcuts guaranteed to help you avoid work but get rich quick."

Mental health professionals are calling people back to traditional values and the joy those can bring to our modern lives. If we allow good to consume us, death will rarely be a thought; and when it comes, it simply is what it is: a transition to our eternal reward.

Application Points

  • Instead of being consumed with the inevitability of death, what are you doing with life today?
  • Solomon says the key to living with joy is embracing your personal, biblical responsibilities. These are primarily loving God, His Word, each other, and pursuing the Great Commission in your own life, followed by your job, relationships, and family. Are you living out these responsibilities well? This kind of living produces hope.
  • Do you live for what is good and eternal? Parents, what are you teaching your children is important by how you spend your time and money? Pursue doing good with the people that Christ loves, His bride, the church.
  • Do you pursue the 4 simple things mentioned above for eternal purposes?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Ecclesiastes 8:16, 3:11, 1 Peter 4:18 – We cannot know all God knows; we must trust Him and do good.
A Hymn To Encourage: "Shout With Delight"

Shout with delight to the Lord, all you people.
Worship the Lord with full gladness of heart.
Come bow before Him with songs full of praises,
Joyful with all of your heart.

Know that the Lord, He is God.
Know that the Lord, He is God.
For He made us, we are His flock,
The sheep of His pasture,
And He is our Rock.
Know that the Lord, He is God!

Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving;
Enter His courts with your tongue tuned to praise.
Our God is good, and His love lasts forever;
Faithfulness marks all His ways.

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