*Every week during our 12 week series in the book of Ecclesiastes we will post a devotional guide that week for the passage that was preached on the most recent Sunday. We encourage you to engage this book of the Bible more fully by walking through this devotional each week after having listened to the sermon on Sunday.*
Week 7- Ecclesiastes 8:2-9:10
The life you have right now is the best possible life you could have in this moment.
Do you believe that? My guess is that you may have just flinched a little bit or read that sentence again with wide eyes. But it’s true. Almost all of us are always comparing our lives to someone else’s life and finding ours wanting. We look to the past and remember “the good ol’ days” or we daydream about the future we long for. “How could my life right now be the best it possibly could when I look around at the world and look inward at my desires and see how things could be so much better?” But everything happening in your life right now is the best thing for you because God has ordained it. He is good, loving, and gracious at the core of His being, and cannot act in any other way. Therefore, He cannot act in any other way toward you because He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim. 2:13b). Given who God is and how He is sovereign over all things the best thing for us to do in response is to fear Him.
To fear God is to stand before him in awe, wonder, honor, and respect for who He is and what He has done. It is to recognize that He is God and you are not. He is in control and you are not. He knows what is best for you and you only think you do. And all of this ultimately leads to trusting Him. To fear God and trust Him is the only logical course of action, but it is also the wisest one. “I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before Him” (Eccl. 8:12). Biblical wisdom says to fear God and trust Him because what else can you do? His will will be done regardless of whether you trust Him or not. But you will find out that when you fear God you find more peace and joy because you see that He is a good, loving heavenly Father that is worthy of trust. And you will also see that, generally speaking, life will go well with you. Plus, the alternative of living as if God does not exist or is irrelevant to our lives only leads to frustration and despair (as Solomon has shown us in Ecclesiastes), and that is hardly desirable.
Yes, there is still sin in this world (and there will be until Jesus returns and sets all things right). Yes, you will still experience trials and difficulty. Yes, you will have desires that go unfulfilled. But God is still in control and He knows what He’s doing, and He always promises to satisfy your deepest desires with Himself. The struggles we experience daily are the result of sin, they are not God’s going. That was not His perfect plan. And while He is never the author of evil, He is always sovereign over evil. Trusting Him is the best thing to do and it will change your heart to have a perspective “beyond the sun” that rejoices in God’s sovereignty rather than only focusing on the difficulties of life in this fallen world “under the sun” and despairing. This is the best and wisest thing we could do in this life.
If you feel like Solomon is coercively twisting your arm to force you to fear God because He is sovereign no matter what, then that means you don’t understand the grace and goodness of God. Solomon’s father, David, says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). Maximum joy and pleasure do not come with gaining our deepest longings and desires in this world or losing trials and difficulties that weigh us down. They ultimately come from enjoying the presence of God through faith in Jesus. And since God is faithful and steadfast we can experience this joy and pleasure all day, everyday. So, you can see that there are many reasons to fear and trust God.
And when we do this first and foremost, we can willingly submit to leaders placed in authority over us because we know that God in His sovereignty has placed them there (Eccl. 8:2-9). We can be good citizens for God’s glory, and we can humbly refuse to submit to the sinful orders of those who do not fear God in their position of authority because we ultimately serve one King. We can trust that God is in control and knows what He’s doing when we are perplexed by the difficulties of life, the unknowability of the future, and the prevalence of sin “under the sun” (Eccl. 8:10-17). We can rest in the One who has given us full, abundant life in Christ when we feel inclined to despair at the reality of death (Eccl. 9:1-6). And we can enjoy the present day with all of its good gifts, relationships, and meaningful work to the glory of God because we have truly tasted and seen that He is good (Ps. 34:8). When we look at the cross of Christ we see that there are a million good reasons to trust God and no good reasons to doubt Him.
So, rejoice in the life that God in His love, grace, wisdom, and sovereignty Has given you right now. It is the best thing for your ultimate good and His eternal glory. Enjoy your good gifts in this life to the glory of God by being satisfied primarily in Christ and using both the gifts and the difficulties in this life as an opportunity to worship Him.
How can you cultivate a healthy fear and trust of the Lord in your life? What will be indicators to you that you are growing in this area?
How can you look to Christ more to rejoice in the life you currently have rather than the one you wish you had?
Do you have a healthy, biblical response to authority? How can you trust and obey Christ more in this area?
What would it look like for you to take the perplexities and unknowable aspects of life on this earth and lay them at the foot of the cross?
1 Peter 2
Spend some time in prayer this week reflecting on any unfulfilled desires you currently have (desires for a good job, a relationship, a trial to be removed, etc.). Probe your heart to discern why you desire that thing. Is it because it is a good thing to desire and you are desiring it in a healthy way? Or are your desires sinful (it is very easy to desire a good thing in an unhealthy and sinful way)? Move closer to Christ in prayer, submitting your desires to Him and resting in Him and the life He has chosen to give you right now.