Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pessimism-colored glasses

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ecclesiastes 2:14-26

The wise man's eyes are in his head,
But the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I myself perceived
That the same event happens to them all." Ecclesiastes 2:14

"And then I took a hard look at what's smart and what's stupid … it's better to be smart than stupid, just as light is better than darkness. Even so, though the smart ones see where they're going and the stupid ones grope in the dark, they're all the same in the end. One fate for all—and that's it." Ecclesiastes 2:12-14 MSG

The words of Solomon's in this passage show us that the lens through which we view life is as important as the ability to see at all. He has chosen to filter what he sees through pessimism. Thus:
  • The fact that his wisdom gives him insights and understandings about life that the unseeing person doesn't have goes unappreciated (Ecclesiastes 2:12-16).
  • The work he enjoys becomes a bitter thing because he has to leave the fruit of it to someone undeserving - Ecclesiastes 2:17-23.
  • Even the supposedly merit-based inequalities—the wisdom, knowledge, and joy God gives to the man "who is good in His sight" over the "gathering and collecting" of the "sinner" is, to him, "vanity and grasping for the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26).

We too can sink into such depressive thinking if we let ourselves. Even when life is sweet, we can harbor thoughts like, "It will soon be evening and this will end," or
"Something bad will probably happen tomorrow," or "Despite this good incident, it's generally all downhill from here."

There is one advantage to viewing life with such negativity: it is the realistic view without God. Solomon seems to be setting himself and his readers up for what I consider the climax of the book in this answer to the disappointing human condition:

"Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed;
Or the golden bowl is broken
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain
Or the wheel broken at the well" - Ecclesiastes 12:6.

When we do that—live with our Creator and His promises for the present and future in mind—life filtered through optimism becomes the realistic view.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for changing everything when You sent Jesus to earth to die and rise again so that a future with You is possible. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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