Keeping Perspective in an Upredictable World

Keeping Perspective in an Unpredictable World
Ecclesiastes 8:15-9:1
“For I have taken all this to my heart and explained it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God.  Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.”

In a fallen world where sin has corrupted God’s creative work and purpose, life becomes unknowable and unpredictable.  We cannot predict tomorrow, nor can we foresee the outcomes of our actions, even when we act with wisdom and righteousness.  We can gain some sense of purpose as we look at the past. However, our perspective becomes dark and veiled when we look at the future.  We cannot perceive the hand and purpose of God as he works out his redemptive plan.  In Scripture, we find the overarching strategy of God, yet we cannot predict how it will relate to us nor the timing of the events.  Does this mean we blindly trudge through life without finding hope and meaning in our efforts?  If so, we might as well throw our hands up in despair.  Just when Solomon takes us to the edge of this precipice, he gives us a different perspective that provides us with hope, perspective, and purpose.  

First, we are to recognize the limits of our wisdom and trust in God, whose wisdom is unlimited (8:17-9:1).  While we do not know the outcome of our labors and the effect our acts will have, God does.  He knows the results because He governs everything in our lives.  This is not fatalism in which an impersonal God pulls the puppet strings so we have no control or purpose. Instead, it is a life of faith. Even though we cannot understand the future, God knows the outcome and guides the process.  Paul affirms this when he states, “All things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  For all the challenges, difficulties, and uncertainties of life, we remain in God’s hand and His loving divine design for us.

Second, we are to rest in God’s plan (8:17).  The journey is just as important as the destination.  God has revealed our final destination (eternal life with Him), but He has not given us clarity in the outcomes of our work and the effect it will have on others.  Instead of focusing on the results, we must focus on the journey itself.  We need to recognize that we cannot fully discern God’s plan, so we must trust Him. What we do know for sure is that “God sits at the Helm, ruling and overruling for good.  Consequently, His people, their works, and their very lives are protected and governed by the God who is over all.  They are safe in His hands” (Walter Kaiser, Coping with Change, p. 150). Therefore, we can still labor with joy even though we do not know the result.

Last, because God determines the outcome, we are to enjoy the life He has given us.  We are to “eat and to drink and to be merry.”  This is not a hedonistic view of life where we give into all our passions and sinful desires. Instead, this is the recognition that despite our inability to predict the outcome of our work, we are still to enjoy life as a gift from God.  God has not only given us the ability to accomplish His purpose but also the ability to find joy and meaning despite life’s frustrations and contradictions.  Despite not knowing the outcome of our day, we are still to enjoy the day that God has given us.  As the Psalmist points out, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).  Even though life is unpredictable, we are to enjoy today still, for God has given it to us to enjoy because his sovereign control gives us perspective in what appears to us as an unpredictable world.

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