30 April 2014

Correction: Of Hope

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
 vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
 the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:2-11)

My devotional for this morning brought an important thing to my attention and prompted me to realize a correction to my previous post should be made. Perhaps more of a footnote. I'd like to be very clear. I am quite skeptical about the world and Western society today: what is valued, what is sought after, what is considered "good" or "bad" or "cool" or "lame". How we throw around derogatory terms without the awareness that they might hurt someone, and that words often hurt us more than physical injury. Having said all of this, I have been reminded this morning that in this fallen world, we can have hope, and we are urged to by our Creator. If you don't believe in a God because you see so much pain & suffering, I can understand. But, consider this: without pain, discomfort, suffering, and even untimely or violent death, would we even be aware of the good, the beautiful, the pure? Or would we just forget that sometimes we are lucky and fortunate/blessed enough to get to experience such moments, and that they stand out and are all the more noticeable thanks to (I dare use the term for attributing a positive cause, the distinction of which my French 103 students recently learned) the darkness we see more and more around us?

I realize that this might not be very uplifting, but I still urge you to consider this world--which is full of fallen people who all lack an essential, God-shaped piece--without the pain and the suffering, and to conceive of what that would mean. Man is considered by some current-day philosophers to have an intrinsic nature that always is seeking to improve, to advance, to create more. This is fine, but without God, "sans bornes" (loosely translated "without borders", but not in a physical sense of the term), it will sooner or later do more damage than good. Society, government--these are things we have created in an attempt to limit and control this tendency. However, as we participate in these, we often forget that we were created by something greater.

My previous post was relatively hopeless. This morning, I choose hope and I share this choice with you. I realize that my simple musings don't address or reach all of the complexities of pain, suffering, and the other circumstances in each person's life. However, I do hope that you will somehow be encouraged to know that a) as you can see from the verses, we have struggled with hopelessness for quite a long time (like, forever), and b) there is a Hope that you can claim, and One who ardently desires for you to come and dwell with Him at the Table. We cannot escape the darkness in the world no matter how much we try. We can choose to fight it with what it least expects and fears: HOPE and JOY. Be blessed, be well, and have hope today.

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