On Sunday morning during church, I watched an older man sitting a few rows ahead struggle to put on his jacket for almost a minute. Eventually, the person sitting next to him had mercy and helped him get his arm in the sleeve. I had already taken my jean jacket off twice that morning, while holding a squirming 2 year old and a cup of coffee. You don’t feel grateful for something like easily dressing yourself until you can’t. It can be hard to be around old people. I’m an avoider of life’s problems, and being around older people reminds me of my unavoidable, impending death. Eventually, my body will grow weak. My vision will dim. And simply putting on my coat without assistance will tire me. What a reminder to enjoy the healthy body that I have (for now), and to extend grace and kindness to those further along in life.
As we close out this book, I’d like to share some words pastor Timothy Keller preached in 1992 on Ecclesiastes:
“Ecclesiastes is not the place we find answers. It’s the rest of the Bible we find answers. This man’s job is to push you to the logical conclusion of your position. This man’s job is to lay bare the foundations of your life, to push you to the boundaries of your thought, to say ‘why do you believe that? why do you believe that? If you believe that, do you see what that leads to? Do you see what that leads to?’ Push you, because he knows none of us have the spiritual or intellectual guts to really look and ask the question ‘why, why why?’ about everything we do and everything we believe.”
Reflection is a really important part of reading the Bible. Just consuming Scripture isn’t what changes or shapes us. It’s in the work of processing and applying it that we grow closer to God and see change in ourselves. Simply reading the book of Ecclesiastes will leave you discouraged, maybe a little bitter. It points out all the redundant, exhausting parts of life without the lens of Jesus. Like I’ve written before, I love this book because it propels me forward in sharing the hope of the gospel. I read this book and I’m reminded what it’s like to face life without Jesus. Hard and meaningless.
Did this book stir up some questions about your faith? I found myself asking a lot of questions. (Like, what is the point of LIFE THEN, SOLOMON?!) Take the time to think about them. We read through books pretty quickly around here, but our desire isn’t to blitz through as much of the Bible as possible. Our hope is that maintaining a regular reading habit will bring you closer in your understanding of who God is and who you are in relation to that. Today, take time to unpack this book and digest the content. What did it stir up inside of you? What are you still thinking about?
Tomorrow we’ll start the book of 1 Kings!