Ep.303: Evil and Madness.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Last week we looked at Ecclesiastes’ comment about randomness. “Not to the swift is the race, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to them all” (Eccl 9:11). Indeed. Sometimes luck trumps speed and strength, sometimes evil overcomes good, sometimes our best plans fail.
But it’s not only time and chance that make life random. One outcome is certain: We all die. However many breaths we breathe, however much stuff we collect, life will soon end and we will lose everything.
Remember that bumper sticker? “The one with the most toys when he dies wins.” Perhaps. But what, exactly, has he won?
The fool and I share the same fate.
Neither will be long remembered;
Both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise die too. (Eccl 2:15-16)
And all we’ve worked for, all we’ve won, all we’ve collected, all we’ve built–we leave it all behind (Eccl 2:17-21). After my father died, we cashed in his little coin collection and used his stamp collection to mail letters. My small library means a lot to me, but will my family care? Value Village, here we come.
The famous poem from Ecclesiastes says:
There is a time for everything
and a season for each activity:
a time to be born and a time to die (Eccl. 3:1).
But later, the author expresses regret at the leveling effect of death: “Surely the fate of human beings is like the fate of animals. Humans have no advantage. All come from dust, to dust all return.” (Eccl 3:20).
We die, we are buried, the worms eat us. A dog dies, it is buried, the worms eat it. Who wins? Man or dog?
Hardly an optimistic philosophy, you say? No, but realistic. As Ecclesiastes summarizes, “People are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead” (Eccl 9:3).
Our father, Ecclesiastes relentlessly describes the problem of life: Evil and madness reign, then we die. And where are you in this troubled story? Do you supervise time and chance and death? Are they your servants?
Teach us to value life, though it is temporary and random. Teach us to live rightly, not madly. Teach us to think soberly about death. As we journey briefly in this world, as our bodies decay, as we submit to time and chance–teach us to hope in your promises.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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