Despair Consumed by Delight

Been noticing the Preacher’s heart as I’ve been reading in Ecclesiastes. He’s applied his heart to seek and search out wisdom (1:13). But he’s also applied his heart to know madness and folly (1:16). He has tested his heart with pleasure (2:1). He has even consulted his heart as bartender on how to dispense wine freely so that he could embrace the ways of living foolishly (2:3). At the end of day — at the heart of the matter — with his earth-constrained, mortally-minded perspective, he concludes that whether it’s the way of wisdom or the fancy of folly, it doesn’t really make any difference. And, since it’s all meaningless, why bother then being “so very wise” (2:15)?

So, what’s next?

So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun.

(Ecclesiastes 2:20 ESV)

Whether it’s a heart plied with wisdom or doused in wine, if at the end of the day all there is is what’s under the sun, then eventually it will become a heart defaulted to despair.

Despair. Despondency. Depression. Hard stuff. Rarely addressed with simple solutions and quick fixes. But if I’m picking up what the Preacher’s laying down, unless we deal with the vanity under the sun, not sure how we’re truly going to see the light of day.

Not that we ignore the futilities of life that can confront us, but we look beyond them. With holy determination and divine enabling, we fix our eyes beyond this life to the fullness of life promised to us. And that, in Christ. Through the cross. In the power of the resurrection. According to the abundant grace apportioned to us. In anticipation of a place which is even now being prepared for us. Doing life under the sun in the context of a life beyond the sun. An eye always to the sky waiting for the day when we will forever be with the One who redeemed our heart so that our abiding hope might continually revive our heart.

Every so I often I feel the pull of the riptide of despair. That undertow dragging you to a place you don’t want to go. But much of its power, I think, is sourced in an under the sun view of our toils and labors. It’s enveloping current is diminished when we set our hearts on things above.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

(2Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

Focus on the seen things, the transient things, and despair will come knocking at the door of your heart. But turn your eyes to the weight of glory being prepared for us, the eternal things, then hear Jesus knocking at the door. And if we open the door, then we’ll know despair consumed by delight.

By His grace. For His glory.

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