“So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 ESV)”
This passage starts off very strong with points I really want to share, but it ends in a rather pessimistic manner. I wish I could say the next portion of scripture immediately resolves the negativity, but we still have a few verses to endure before we get there.
Don’t give up on me – it’s just part of our journey! Sometimes we’re struggling up the hills of life, questioning everything and feeling distant from God; but, other times we’re enjoying the wind at our backs, looking forward to a promising future, counting our blessings, as we coast downhill…
There is some great imagery in this passage that I really want to focus on. In fact, I was just looking for a verse about the conflict between light and darkness and I was excited to find what I was looking for in today’s passage!
This is the first time the Qohelet has specifically stated one of the major themes of Ecclesiastes, which is that wisdom is better than folly. It’s certainly an appropriate truth to today’s generation!
I think many of us pursue folly because we’re looking for the best out of life. We think that if we enjoy all of the things life has to offer, we will find meaning in our existence. Subconsciously, we know there is more to life than we see around us, but often we look in the wrong places trying to gain happiness!
By making bad choices, we essentially ignore the plans God has for us and this ‘happiness’ we seek becomes even more allusive, a chasing after wind. I always related well to the book of Ecclesiastes because I had tremendous experience striving after folly, and all I ever gained was heartache and frustration. But, at the time I initially read Ecclesiastes, I had just enjoyed my first taste of wisdom – and I knew that its pursuit was a much better choice! But, how exactly does one ‘pursue’ wisdom?
The truth is, I don’t think you pursue wisdom as much as it pursues you! Wisdom can be gained by making bad choices, provided you’re open to learning from these mistakes. God has an amazing way of using my poor decisions for His glory. In fact, I wouldn’t change anything in my past because those experiences have made me the person I am today! Flawed, broken, incomplete, humbled, but wiser…
I understand why people, especially young women, look to ‘complete’ themselves apart from God and I pray for opportunities to interact with those who are struggling in their own strength. It’s taken me a while, but now I realize my efforts apart from God are futile!
Experience is not the only teacher of wisdom; it’s just the remedial course I signed up for! People can gain wisdom by studying God’s word, interacting with more mature Christians, prayer, etc. The most important part is that you are open to gaining wisdom, as it is given to us; we do not acquire it on our own. Wisdom results from our being in the light!
It’s easy to conclude that light is better than darkness; we experience this every day in the non-spiritual realm. But, God is light and light is directly opposed to darkness, and this truth is worth considering.
In the past year, God has repeatedly been showing me the negative effects that can result when people are unequally yoked. I was thinking about this yesterday, and the thought came into my head that darkness cannot stand the light; conflict results!
This may be an oversimplification of reality, but let’s consider a hypothetical relationship (disclaimer: this is entirely fictional-as I have no experience in this area). I’m going to choose to describe a marriage where both people start off in the same place spiritually. Technically, this hypothetical relationship is not limited to marriage; it could be two best friends, a parent/child, or any two people who are very close to each other. Let’s assume they are lukewarm Christians – they believe in God, but are comfortable being in control of their current lives.
As the relationship progresses, one or both partners begin to realize they are not experiencing the level of eternal bliss they signed up for. A pursuit of folly may result, but communication with the other partner regarding the dissatisfaction may not. People are often so afraid to hurt someone they love, with negative feelings, that they keep them inside, and allow their frustrations to build! But, even if communication does occur, it might not alleviate the problem.
Time progresses and the void is not filled by folly. So, let’s assume one partner, having no where else to turn, takes their problem to God. This causes the one partner to understand that there is no perfect relationship apart from God and they come to peace with their situation. They value their relationship, and are determined to make it work at any cost.
This person has been illuminated to the light! However, if the other person has not come to the same conclusion, they remain in darkness and thus the problem may not easily resolve itself… Now there is a definite disconnect in the two people, and as one person grows in the light, the opposition of light and darkness intensifies. Eventually, this (left unresolved) could lead to dissolution of the relationship.
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:7-9 ESV)
I’ve seen the effects of this, and it’s heartbreaking! I cannot, nor ever want to, imagine how it feels to have a part of you ripped out by divorce. I am eternally grateful that my quest for folly did not lead me down this path of pain and destruction…
Darkness and light can not coexist. Either the light will be dimmed, or the darkness illuminated. If both people are not on the same page, conflict is inevitable! Dating someone with the intention of helping them see the light will not work either, as every person must make the decision to accept God’s gift and trust in Him individually.
For me, I choose light…and oppose darkness. In my life, I desire wisdom and despise folly. That might make me unattractive to many people who are comfortable living in darkness, but I want God’s light to shine through me and want others to see how magnificent life is when God brightens your path!
Here, the Qohelet tells us that this is meaningless because we all end up with the same outcome, which is death, but because of Jesus, we know that’s not the case! Therefore, I do not hate life, because I embrace what it represents and look forward to my eternity with Jesus!