When I was a teenager and a budding Christian, I discovered Ecclesiastes. Full of angst and driving questions, my young heart found a friend in the Teacher. This man was emotional. This man spoke what I felt—that nothing made sense. He was right; life was pointless, circular, tragic.
I still consider the Teacher a dear friend.
And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
You don’t have to be a teenager to feel that the Teacher’s words are still pretty relevant. Just today, hundreds of thousands are rioting in France. An American family is mourning their husband and father, a doctor killed in Sudan as he worked to heal the wounded in a civil war. In the minute it has taken you to read this, 20 people have been physically abused by an intimate partner. Maybe we are all animals. Maybe judgment and justice will never come.
Oh, but Jesus.
As an adult, still bent toward angst and questions, I fix my eyes on a second teacher. Mary called Him “Rabboni” (which means teacher). His followers hung on every wise word He taught them. Like the teacher of Ecclesiastes, He looked at the world and wept. He, too, railed against the injustice He saw all around Him.
But He was not content just to write a book. His life’s purpose was to look evil in the eye and say, “No more. You shall not win this war.” In His thirty-three years, He banished demons and freed countless captives. He let a rebellious world hang Him on a cross so that justice might prevail. He came back to life so that His students would know that He did indeed have all authority to judge. And one day He will come riding in, as trumpets sound, to do just that.
I am friend to two teachers: one who gave in to despair and one who killed it. When I read Ecclesiastes now, I still resonate with the sorrow, but the lenses of a student of Christ are on my eyes. I cannot live in the sorrow. I do not believe that we are better off being unborn. We are better off living under the light of the risen Savior!
And with my second, better Teacher, I step out in the Spirit to work against injustice. I counsel the abused. I pray for the persecuted. I bring food and hugs to the hopeless. North Wake, what else can we do to follow His lead? Give to Human Coalition. Go on a short term mission trip. Foster a child. Write a prisoner. Write your representative. Visit the sick. It is NOT hopeless! We are the hands and feet to a God of justice and mercy. He WILL come back and bring peace!
Come, Lord Jesus. Come! And when you come, may you find your church not wringing its hands but rather using its hands to love this desperate world. After all, this is our good, God-given work, and there is “nothing better under the sun.”