Ecclesiastes 7:14-18 SOAP v. 14
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
15 In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.
16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
O – What a wonderful, and wise, outlook on life! To be joyful in the days of prosperity. (That’s easy….) But – also to remember that on those difficult days, that God has given BOTH of them to us. They teach us. But we need both. The Message says “..So that we won’t take anything for granted…” But also – to know that our lives are short, in eternal perspective, and that we will not “last forever” on this earth.
He also seems to have seen and done it all. He has seen the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper. So – he recommends to: not be “too” righteous, or “too” wise or “too wicked” or “too” foolish.” It’s like he is shaking our shoulders, saying “Listen to me!” BUT, alas, he is wrong. We should pursue righteousness and wisdom – as long as we seek God’s perspective on them. Yes, the one who fears God will come out right in the end.
A – How to apply this? First of all, to realize that God gives us both wonderful times of growth and plenty – and times of trials. Both are needed, like sunshine and rain to make plants grow. I also know, from life experience, that I have grown immensely during those difficult times. After divorce, my dad’s death, the closing of Brockton Christian School, the year of unemployment. Yes, desert times, but times that I NEEDED to cling to God, and learn from that time of journeying through deserts. I remembered this writing that I found during 2010, after the school closed, and I was unemployed. ….
I was profoundly moved by the words written by Ann Lewin in Candles and Kingfishers: Reflections on the Journey, which gave me insight into how God’s release of fear in my own heart can open the way for Him to work in new ways in my life each day:
“Uncomfortable places, deserts
Most of the time we’re tempted to
Avoid them, finding good reason to
Live lives of ease; cushioned by
Noise from self-discovery,
Clutching at world’s success
To stave off fear.
But if we dare to trust the silence
To strip away our false security,
God can begin to grow His wholeness in us,
Fill up our emptiness, destroy our fears.
Give us new vision, courage for the journey,
And make our desert blossom like a rose.”
There is a plaque that I have hanging in our house, called “The Weaver”. It has been attributed to many people, including Corrie ten Boom. It gives a great perspective of the difficult and the blessed times of our lives. Here’s a presentation, from Corrie ten Boom Live – where an actress reads the poem. It is powerful!
My Life is but a Weaving…. (from Corrie TenBoom live) –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rXLmIx0SsI
P – Father God, thank You for those times of blessing, like I am experiencing right now. I attribute them to YOU – the source of all blessings. Help me not to take them for granted, or to become callous and ungracious. Father, I also thank You for those desert times, for those times that I ached, and yearned, and waited for You. You taught me to wait on You, to lean on You for daily sustenance, and to trust You for daily provision. Father, help me to keep a balanced outlook on my life – to praise You for both the blessings and the trials. I know that I learn from both. Help me to encourage those who are in a desert time. Help me to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep. Father, may I be an encouragement today – with those I encounter in my daily walk.