Skeptics have a difficult time explaining how Christianity really got started. What gave eleven ordinary and otherwise unremarkable men the confidence to proclaim the gospel in the face of immediate and intense opposition? What was it that transformed Paul—previously a sworn enemy of Christianity—into such a dedicated and unrelenting advocate for the gospel?
God has ordained changing seasons in our lives. At times we welcome that change. At other times we resist it. Wisdom embraces each chapter and allows God to show us how we can enjoy each one—because we know the Author who is writing every line of every chapter.
As our world spins further and further away from God’s original, perfect creation, those gathered against the gospel of Christ grow. We may be tempted to despair. Is God hearing our prayers? Is God in control? Is he even good? Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? When, if ever, will he decide to show up?
Contrary to some interpretations of Ecclesiastes, the author isn’t saying that life is meaningless. It’s just problematic. It’s simply unsolid, like a cloud. It’s absurd. It’s hevel. For those of you who think life can be managed by neat and tidy “Proverbs guarantees,” a book like Ecclesiastes is troubling. It should be. Because at some point the hevel of life is going to smash you in the face.
The stories Jesus commends about adults praying actually make them sound like children. Think about the parable of the friend who comes banging on your door at midnight and won’t leave you alone. Or the persistent widow, who keeps badgering the unjust judge until he grants her request (just to get her off his back). The heroes in these prayer stories are people who just come and talk and ask for whatever they need. Just like our kids.
We tend to think our problem is educational. We don’t know precisely the right way to go, so we want God to show us. But Solomon had more wisdom in his noggin than any of us. It didn’t help. The problem wasn’t with head knowledge, but with heart-level obedience. That’s our problem, too. It’s not that we are oblivious to the right way to go; we simply lack the will to go there.