As much as we like to believe we can do life on our own, it’s not true. Just read Ecclesiastes 4:9,12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12 NLT
Clearly, we were made for community. Why do we need community?
1) Accountability: I’ve done so much better in life when people hold me accountable. I don’t have to like it, but I do know I need it.
2) Support: When you’re sick or experience the death of a loved one, there’s nothing like community to help you through that difficult time. Community also gives you the opportunity to do the same.
3) God is representative of community. We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in God. So when we think of God, we should think of Community and Unity.
Now, do we need any more reason than that to pursue healthy communal relationships?
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
While Ecclesiastes may feel discouraging, it’s really not. It’s actually quite possible to find encouragement in the book. There is plenty of wisdom in it, and where there is wisdom, we can be encouraged.
Chapter three talks about there being a time for everything. There is a season for everything. It’s hard to believe or accept that there is a time for life and death, crying and laughing, love and hate, and a time for peace and war. But rather than be discouraged by this, what would happen if we embraced it?
Maybe what makes life difficult is not understanding the times. With that said, God knows the time for all of these things. It’s not up to us to figure it out or try to manipulate it, but to accept it. In accepting this, perhaps we can embark on a journey of peace about timing. After all, God has the perfect timing.
These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 NLT
So, as you can see, we’re off to a great start. 🙂 It’s likely that this is written by Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. He’s coming out of the gate with this statement.
Everything is meaningless. It is completely meaningless. In other words, there’s no purpose to anything, and there’s no purpose in anything. Ouch!
I love that this is in the Bible. Not because i love or feed off of negativity. It’s quite the opposite of that idea. I love it because it’s so real and raw. Sometimes, this is genuinely how we feel. Sometimes, I feel like asking, what’s the point? This week, I’ve felt that way. Now, I can’t wallow in this feeling, but I need to address that it is a very real feeling.
Ecclesiastes doesn’t paint a picture of a perfect life. It doesn’t pretend that everything is always all good. People aren’t positive all the time or even most of the time. Materials don’t make peace and joy. That’s the hard truth we read in this book, and the beauty is that as we journey through it, we’ll discover what really makes peace and joy.
I really enjoy the Book of Ecclesiastes. I forget how much I enjoy it until I start reading it. It’s one of the more relatable books to me. Why? Because if we’re honest, sometimes we’re just not feeling it.
I would say, it’s certainly not ironic, but this week I’ve not been feeling it. Not feeling like working and not feeling like making the extra effort. Yet, I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to work. I’ve got to try. But I don’t feel like it…What’s the point?
Do you ever feel that way? Like there’s no point to your routine. Work, maybe play, and back at it all over again. This never-ending cycle of the mundane routine feels draining, doesn’t it?
If you relate to any of that, then you can understand why Ecclesiastes resonates. The Teacher, in the Book of Ecclesiastes is battling the question of life that has carried throughout centuries. What’s the point?
Let’s journey through Ecclesiastes for the answer.
But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. – Genesis 45:5 NLT
Now, I might be able to forgive. I could hopefully love enough to welcome the siblings who sold me into slavery. But to tell them not to be angry with themselves is on another level. I think I could forgive the hurt and pain, but I at least would want there to be some inner turmoil for what they put me through.
How does Joseph do this? I think the answer is here:
This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. – Genesis 45:6-8 NLT
Joseph finally understood the assignment:
1) To be used by God to preserve people 2) To show that we can have an incredible ability to forgive 3) To remind us of the importance of God’s timing rather than our own
As hard as it is to believe or comprehend, when we are on assignment from God, we can forgive in miraculous ways. We can find peace in God’s providential timing, and lastly, we can rejoice that He is using us to accomplish His purposes.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
There is peace available. That much is true. There is a false peace as well. That false peace tends to come from us trying to do everything and/or control everything. There’s a false sense of peace from self-medicating. There’s a false sense of peace that is often self-induced.
And then there’s Peace. There’s God’s peace. Get this, it’s a peace we can’t even comprehend.
How does the grief stricken family still smile and trust God in their loss? Incomprehensible peace from God. How does the barren couple hear the results and walk out in confidence and comfort? Indescribable peace of God. How do the sick not seem sick? A peace that can’t be manufactured, the Peace of God that gives them comfort and strength to keep going.
So I’ll reiterate. Yes, there’s a form of peace, but then there’s Peace. There’s Peace the Person– Jesus Christ. That peace is the one I need and if we’re honest, it’s the one we all need.
I so rarely if ever write anything about John chapter 1. It’s so meaty, and yet so clear. There’s so much to expound on and yet, so much in plain site for the person who is willing to read it for themselves. All that to say, here are my three big takeaways whenever I read this first part of John.
1) Jesus is the Word (v. 1). 2) Jesus has always been there from the beginning (v. 2). 3) If you really want to know what God is like, look at Jesus and you’ll find out (v. 18).
So what does that mean for us? Well, good news as always.
We can have hope because the Word gives us life and light (v. 4). We have the ability to live and the encouragement to do so in and through Jesus.
We can have confidence in Jesus’ eternal presence but also His eternal love for us because He came into a world He created but was rejected by. The Creator was rejected by His creation. Yet and still, He loves us enough to allow us to seek forgiveness and repent. He even gives us the opportunity to become His children (v. 10-14).
Finally, we can rejoice because we can know God personally and spiritually through Jesus. He is far from distant.
And in addition to all this wonderful news, we can rejoice because there are abundant blessings for the children of God through Jesus Christ (v. 16-18).