The odd comfort of Ecclesiastes

(Photo: Unsplash/Tim Wildsmith)

Dear child, the year is 2022. As I write, the globe has been ransacked by a virus for over two years, Europe experienced the biggest land invasion not seen since your great grandparents' generation, and the impact of technology feels like lukewarm water reaching boiling point.

What world will you know 5, 10, 15 years from now? Will in-person interaction become antiquated and strange? Will in-person gatherings and divisions between those vaccinated and those not escalate to a caste system? Will the war in Ukraine no longer be about just Ukraine?

These are the questions I ask for you, child. As seeds of division, strife, and social isolationism on all fronts become normalised, the fruit reaped may not be apparent as I write this, but it may become your reality.

The odd comfort of Ecclesiastes

I am no prophet and I cannot speak to what you will endure as you grow up, but take heart in the Scriptures. They speak of a shared humanity in the face of turmoil and uncertainty, and what we are called to do.

Be reminded that Ecclesiastes chapter 1, verse 9 declares,

 What has been done is what will be,

 and what has been done is what will be done,

 and there is nothing new under the sun."

There is a chronological amnesia rampant in society. The Israelites succumbed to it time and time again as they forgot the ways of the LORD. So, too, does society not only forget the Scriptures, but it forgets where society has already been.

New viruses, rumours of wars, societal division may all seem new in their own time, but these tragedies are not foreign to the human experience. We have merely forgotten them.

So, too, will your generation forget. It is in that time that you must remember: there is nothing new under the sun, no matter how the issue is portrayed. These may not seem like comfort, but when we realise that no strife that you will experience is novel, the rest of Scripture comes to light.

Peace in strife and uncertainty

Despite the wrapping paper new societal issues are presented in, the common strife of humanity leads us to the common hope of humanity.

Where strife overwhelms you, do not forget Paul's exhortation in Romans chapter 15, verse 13,

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

And the words of 1 John chapter 4, verse 4,

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

These are the promises for your generation, just as they were for ours, and those before us. The promises of God do not promise to take away strife or uncertainty. They offer something far greater: a hope that endures in spite of it all.

God may not change the world's circumstances, but He may change you.

You need only read Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Lamentations to see not only the weight of suffering, but the goodness of God in uncertain times. Each of these books do speak to the providence of God, but more vastly they speak to the hope in God despite adversity.

I cannot speak to what world you will know when you have grown up and I am no longer here. But God does, and always will. Though the seas of countries and the globe may rage, be it the failure of politics, economics, or diplomacy, remember the One who remains firm.

Republished from Christian Today UK.