The Long View

Congratulations! You made it. Finally it is 2021. You persevered through the last 365 eons . . . er, I mean . . . 365 days.

Who knows what’s coming over the following days? Prediction, as the old joke goes, is especially difficult with regard to the future. True story.

I prefer history over prophecy. I find studying history fortifies me better for the future than pundits’ prognostications. My tendency to study history is one of myriad reasons I love the book of Ecclesiastes. Here’s an example of Solomonic wisdom in Ecclesiastes:

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 (Eccl 1:9-11 ESV).

Solomon is reputed to have been among the wisest men to have ever lived. And Ecclesiastes is one of the wisest books you and I have the privilege to read and learn from.

Illustration: Over the Christmas holidays in 2020, my plans did not go as I had hoped. I began feeling pretty crummy a few days before Christmas–severe headache, loss of taste, loss of my sense of smell, fatigue, etc. Finally I went to the pharmacy up the road for a swab test. The results revealed I was positive for COVID-19. So I spent almost all of ten days either in my bed, in my recliner, or shuffling between the two.

But my wife nursed me back to health by having me rest and follow the recommended regimen: hydrate, take lots of vitamins C, D, zinc, magnesium, etc. I did all of the above. And now I am good to go. But it was not a Christmas holiday season I ever care to repeat.

It was bittersweet to see others’ pictures and videos of Christmas together where their kids were opening gifts around Christmas trees and the stockings hung from the fireplace mantels resembled scenes from some of my favorite Dickens novels.

I had a lot of time to read and reflect. I think that is one more reason I relish the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. As Solomon wrote in the passage cited above, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9b).

Viruses have been around a long time. But wisdom has been around, too. And the world keeps going. It does not stop because a few battle a virus for a week or two.

Encouragement: When I was scrolling my Facebook page one day over the break, one of our neighbors had taken a picture of the lake where we live and shared it for others to enjoy. She had snapped it from her dock. The picture reminded me of the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes.

When life goes topsy-turvy, and we are tempted to scratch our heads and ask, “Why this? Why now? Why me?” or “What’s next?” we can learn from history that “What has been is what will be” (Eccl 1:9a), and that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen 8:22).

Let us press on in wisdom, “for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 1:9).

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