Of course, it’s better to be wise than foolish. We do well to slow down, take some time out, reflect, and consider what we are on about. But at the end of the day, does it really change anything? I’ve accumulated three degrees, some diplomas, and a few certificates. They’re collecting dust somewhere in the basement. If we invest everything in the accumulation of wisdom, but forget to live live, and forget that life will come to an end, then we prove ourselves to be foolish. The wise person begins with the end in mind.
I read recently that the key to finding happiness is to stop seeking happiness. Is this right? Why is happiness so important to us? And why is it so fleeting and short-lived? Why does it seem like we are just chasing after the wind?
These are difficult days. Locked down, isolated, fearful, confused. Sickness, death, unemployment, recession. What is happening? Ecclesiastes describes a heavy burden that God has laid on people. Yet far from being a reason for despair—this is the foundation of hope. Nothing has escaped our sovereign Lord. We can turn to him in our need.
So much of our lives are spent working. We toil day after day after day. Why do we do it? What do we hope to gain? Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 asks us to consider what we are working for?
This pandemic, and the demands to stay at home, are placing many stresses on us. It’s also created unique opportunities. We get to hit pause on some of the things that have highjacked our lives, stolen our time, and drained our bank accounts. We get to slow down a little and think.
Let me encourage you to make the most of the moment. Such a time might never come again—most likely never will. So stop and smell the roses. Pause and consider the questions of meaning and purpose and life and death and faith and hope and love. Embark on a quest for meaning. See if you can discover a reason, a purpose, a worthwhile destination. Ask questions of God: “Are you there?” “Do you care?” “Can I know you?” “Can you please make yourself known to me?”
I recommend doing some exploration of the Bible. Grab hold of a modern translation, open to one of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—and ask questions of Jesus. Explore the Scriptures, do a bit of soul searching, but don’t make it theoretical. Ask the what and the so what.
There is a book in the Bible that examines the big questions of existence, purpose and meaning. It doesn’t provide all the answers, but it sure asks good questions. Taken together with the rest of the Bible, and especially the message of Jesus, it is a word for the season. I’d love to help you get into this unusual part of the Bible, so most days I will be posting a brief video (between 3 and 9 minutes) that exposes this book, explores the matters it raises, and connects with life now.
I invite you to join me in exploring Ecclesiastes together. You can do this on your own or together with others in your household. You might want to watch a video, read over the words in Ecclesiastes, talk together, pray about things… whatever you want really. Feel free to point others to the videos (currently stored on the Salt Church website), share on Facebook, email a friend, use for coffee chats, or ask a friend to check out Ecclesiastes with you.
My hope is that this will be a blessing to you.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2 NIV)
The horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic have plastered our screens with death, day after day after day. We watch death tolls rising in the virus epicentres. We follow, in fear and relief, the flattening of the curve in our midst. Everything has changed. And yet nothing has changed. We all face death and the coronavirus is inescapably confronting us with this harsh reality.
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
(Mark 15:33-34, NIV)
During this time of social distancing, lock downs, and quarantines, it’s worth reflecting on how critical separation is proving for the saving of lives. The first Good Friday was the ultimate separation to save lives for eternity.