Monday, February 4, 2008
This Season of Life.....
All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt….There us something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless….then I saw all that God has done. Now one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it. – Ecclesiastes 8: 9,14, 17
What do we do when the people we love are suffering? What do we do when they are struggling with indecision and frustration, unhappiness and discontentment? There is a feeling of complete helplessness that washes over us – a feeling that shouts, “help them” but then, there’s the reality of being unable to do so. We sit helplessly, painfully, watching as those friends or family members shut the doors of their hearts to us. We’re left standing in the rain, locked away from the warmth and dryness of usefulness.
Perhaps distance separates us from them. Perhaps only a bedroom wall, but one way or the other our hearts groan with agony because they will not allow us access. The majority of the time there are few words we can offer that will repair their hurt. Still we want to say something, do something….be there. Helpless is a horrid feeling.
The writer of Ecclesiastes (Solomon, most believe), has approached a season in his life where he searches for real understanding. The place he seeks and realizes he cannot find, is a true understanding of God and why God allows the world to spin in the method it spins. As youth, we simply live for the moment, never taking a second thought at what lies ahead for us – what trials and frustrations we may come upon. When we enter our thirties, we begin to realize that we are too old for real youth, and too young for complete adulthood – we’re inexperienced. Problems arise and they become the weight of the world because we’ve not yet lived long enough to grasp well thought out solutions which only come with age. I recently told a good friend, when I was in my thirties I equated it to the “terrible twos”. I was staring at everyone’s knee caps and grasping for the table top that was still out of reach, even if I stood on my tiptoes. In other words – inexperienced, frustrated, and just not tall enough to reach the answers.
Life smoothed out in my forties simply because I had enough of life’s experiences to reflect on – we call that hindsight or learning from consequence. And now, as I knock at the door of my fifties I find myself in the same season as Solomon. There is experience, lessons learned, wisdom gained, yet I cannot understand why things work they way they do. Why do bad people get great things and good people get lost in the shuffle? Why can we not grasp the answers to the questions we need – stop the pain and suffering, the frustration and irritation? Enjoy peace.
The fact is, the best we answer we will derive is that there is no real answer, because through it all, God is still God. We simply cannot comprehend Him, understand Him, grasp Him. So all we can do is stand on our tiptoes and reach. We can trust that a time will come when the Father levels the playing field for the just and the unjust. Until that day comes, we suffer through what life flings at us, and we watch aimlessly as those same things cut into the hearts of those we cherish. Such is life.
Today on my early morning walk, I brought this up to the Father.
“Okay, Father, I don’t get it. My good friend is suffering and I can’t do anything to help him. The door is shut.” I kicked a stone and it bounced and tumbled across the grass.
“I see that friend of yours. I know what’s going on.”
“So why let him suffer?”
“It’s growth. He knows I’m there.” The Father skipped and then toe-kicked the same stone sending it sailing further across the yard.
“But he’s a good person. He’s kind and generous. He loves you with his whole heart. Why does he have to struggle with indecision and frustration?”
“Sometimes we choose our own way of growth. Purely unintentional yet, appropriate. Sometimes we know ourselves better and anyone and the way to our success is through the methods we love the most. Does that make sense? The Father asked.
“Yes and no.”
“See. You can’t grasp the why’s of the world. That’s my job. Yours is to grow in wisdom and ability. And you will grow through the things that you love and by the same token what you hate. But you will grow.”
“So what about those who do not deserve good things yet they reap joy and wealth?”
“What about them? Their deeds will catch up to them. Their reward is guaranteed.” He picked up a stick and cracked it across His knee handing me half.
“So, what about those who do good, but get nothing?” I drew back and flung the stick sending it spinning across the rail fence.
“Same thing, child. Their deeds will catch up to them and their reward is guaranteed. Until that time, we use these things to grow.”
“But my friend is hurting and torn, unsure what lies ahead.”
“I know the needs and I will provide. But in my time.”
I still have no answers in this season of my life. I only have my faith and trust that the Father in His infinite wisdom will manage His world without my assistance. In the meantime, I will be available for those in my life who struggle and I will trust the rest to the God. We’re simply not meant to understand, only to trust.