Now we continue the wisdom series with a study of the book of Job. We have two Bible Project videos to help us capture the ideas. First is the video from the Wisdom series which compared Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.
The second is the read scripture video that helps us get the outline of the book.
Life teaches us that we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re not in charge. Just about the time we think we’ve got it all figured out, it all falls apart. This can throw us into despair, cause us to give up or check out. Cause us to stop living. The teacher in Ecclesiastes brings us to this end by the close of the book. He helps us see that no matter how hard we work at things, all is vanity.
Then the conclusion of the matter is tacked on at the end to help shed some light. “Fear God and keep his commandments” it proclaims, “for God will bring every deed into judgment.” So, everything matters. Even the secret things… the hidden things. Because, nothing is hidden from His sight and our lives have purpose. He has put us here to carry out His purposes.
We are not in control and we don’t fully understand this life under the sun. However, there is one who came from above the sun… who made the sun. He came to give us life to the full. Don’t give up, don’t check out! Everything matters and Jesus will make our lives count. Follow Him!
If you search on the word “Contentment” you find all kinds of memes that offer a quick tip to find this inner happy place. I mostly saw ideas about adjusting the attitude. “Don’t dwell on what you want, be thankful for what you have, contentment is a choice, contentment is not merely chose - it is fought for...” The list goes on and on. I don’t know about you but I’ve tried to talk myself out of unhappy moments and it rarely works. I usually end up buying, eating, or drinking until I forget what was bugging me.
The teacher in Ecclesiastes presses secular thinking past the breaking point. He skillfully challenges the worldview of the humanist, past the point of cute slogans added to photos of mountain streams or fields of grain. Chapter 5 focuses on the topic and ends with the assertion that contentment comes from God. This is one of those moments where the teacher shows his cards, pointing the disillusioned to God.
The Apostle Paul agrees with the teacher and rescues us with some clarity, “...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Phil 4:11) Note that he has learned it. This reminds us that it is a process. We don’t just choose to be content. It’s not simply a matter of looking on the bright side. Disappointment abounds and every time it comes our way, we respond. We can curl up and quit, step up and press on or perhaps take a third option. Turn our attention to God. Talk to Jesus about it in prayer. Listen to Him by reading His word. “...I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:12-13) Turning to God when discouraged, clinging to him in despair, changes us. He begins to breath life into us. Reading His word and seeing the world through His vantage point helps explain the problems we face and gives us hope. You see contentment comes to us from the outside. It comes to us from God. It is not found within us. We are broken and in need of help.
Yes, contentment really is a gift from God. Yes, we must learn it. Yes, it is found in a day by day, moment by moment relationship with Jesus where we cast all our cares upon him, talking to him and listening to him. There really is hope!
A shepherd and his journey