We are continuing our Under the Sun series out of Ecclesiastes, where King Solomon is reflecting on the meaning of life here on Earth. Ecclesiastes points out some hard questions and difficult tensions, but God is waiting for us in the midst of our questions and confusions. When we seek Him and ask for His wisdom, we find that it’s not about finding answers, it’s about finding Him with us—whether we’ve known God for a long time or we’re just exploring who He might be.
Read Ecclesiastes 8.1–17.
Ecclesiastes is considered wisdom literature, meaning it was used to for those training to be future palace staff. In Ecclesiastes, we’re introduced to some of the brokenness of the world through the lens of government. It’s like King Solomon’s trying to warn us that can get pretty messed up on “the inside.” Wisdom is good and important, but we live in a broken world; we will encounter situations we don’t have the answers to, where things aren’t going the right way.
Have you ever felt stuck in all the unanswered questions? Maybe we’re wondering what the point of life is, or why there is so much brokenness and injustice in the world. There’s something inside of us that wants answers and justice to our questions. These are the kinds of tensions that Ecclesiastes 8 starts to get at.
How do we move forward under the sun in the face of these big, unanswered questions? We have Solomon, who is known from being the wisest king in all of history saying, “I can’t figure it out,” but thankfully, this is where the hope of the gospel and the lens of faith give us a whole new perspective. God is using Solomon’s process of wrestling with these tensions to show us how to live life under the sun in the following three ways.
1. Accept Our Limitations
There are going to be questions we can’t figure out and tensions that we can’t resolve in this life. We’re humans, which means we have limited abilities and a limited understanding. Questions aren’t bad, and processing doubts is a part of engaging with God and our authentic communities. However, when it becomes the most important thing, that’s when we get off track. Obsessing about the “Whys” paralyzes us from taking action and being the answer to injustices in our own backyard and around the world. Accepting limitations isn’t something to pacify us, but to empower us because when we do, we shift our focus from having all the answers to being the answer as carriers of good news to a broken world.
Question: What injustices do you feel most passionate about? What resources do you have right now to take action?
2. Fear God
The “Fear of God” isn’t about seeing God with the kind of terror you may have felt as a child at bedtime, unsure about what could be lurking in the dark. To fear God means being in awe and wonder of Him and to have a holy reverence for who He is as King of kings and Lord of lords. When we fear God, we move outside of the limits that exist under the sun and into His eternal, satisfying presence. In His presence, we remember that He is with us, He is fighting our battles, He desires to demonstrate His power in our lives, He is in control, He is sovereign, He’s the King of the Nations, and the Sustainer of all things. Standing on these truths gives us confidence to continue, even in the midst of unanswered questions.
Question: When was the last time you were in awe of God? When was the last time you were blown away by his power or love or creativity? What can you do to rediscover the awe and wonder of God?
3. Trust God
There will always be circumstances and situations that will tempt us to doubt God and wonder, “How do I trust God in a world where bad things happen to good people, where life is hard and confusing, where there is brokenness and injustice?”
This is where Jesus makes all the difference. God gave us Jesus. The all-knowing and all perfect Father sent His only son to experience life under the sun with us. Jesus was no stranger to injustice. He lived the life of doing all the right things, following God, and obeying Him. Still, He was misunderstood, treated unfairly, and paid the ultimate price for us. But He rose again so that we could all have victory over the inevitable brokenness of our world with the promise that all things will be set right when Christ returns.
Even though there will be questions that we may never find the answer to in this lifetime and events that confuse and challenge our notions of fairness and justice, we can be certain of this: the God that loves us isn’t an uninvolved, uncaring force nor a distant deity who only wants our fear, but a loving Father that comes close to us in the midst of evil, suffering, and injustice. Who gives us not only His son, but calls us a friend with access to the same promises and abundance needed to navigate this life in victory under His grace.