Time and chance affects everyone, but rejoice, death is not the end
Published 2:29 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021
BY TONY HOSS
Last week, many in our nation suffered great tragedy resulting from tornados and dangerous storms. Recently it was asked why God would allow such to happen to good people; why didn’t He stop the carnage that took so many lives and caused so much physical damage? Storms aren’t the only tragedy that affect the lives of people: there are drunk drivers that cause injury and death, various sicknesses such as childhood cancer, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses that bring heartache and death that people must deal with. The question is: “Did God cause these things to happen?” Thankfully the Word of God gives us the answer in Ecclesiastes 9:1-12.
According to Solomon, death is equally certain regardless of how good or bad someone is (Ecc. 9:1-2). In fact, Solomon reveals that this is the common destiny of all men. All share a common destiny. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews concurs with Solomon. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb 9:27)
Solomon reveals to us that the righteous and the unrighteous are equally affected by the various tragedies and hardships involved in life. Good and bad happens to all people. If we only looked at the external appearances of men it would be impossible to see which were good or bad people. There are times when our lives seem to get better and times when they seem to get worse; but these times are not always an indication of who is good or bad, only God knows (Ecc. 9:1).
We also see that a person’s efforts in life do not always assure success. While one may have all the ability in the world and puts forth proper effort he may still fail (Ecc. 9:3). It is no wonder that Jeremiah said, “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches.” (Jeremiah 9:23).
One thing is certain, while we are living, we can prepare for death. God has given the living an advantage that disappears when life is gone. (Ecc. 9:4-6). When one dies, their opportunity to prepare is over. (Luke 16:24-31). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man did not take advantage in preparing for eternity. However, Lazarus had made the proper choices in life. These decisions paid off for him in eternity.
God would have us to know that instead of falling into despair over how short and unpredictable life is, we should use that knowledge to encourage us to live life to the fullest. The very knowledge of life’s uncertainties should cause us to seize the day and enjoy it to the fullest while making the most of it. Enjoy the everyday aspects of life. Get out the fine china. Don’t let life go by without experiencing joy and happiness. Instead of living in dread and fear, do everything with energy and enthusiasm. (Ecc. 9:7-10). In Ecclesiastes 2:24, Solomon said, “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
While many believe they are in total control of life, Solomon reminds us that some things are left to chance. He reminds us that our lives are often like a fish caught in a net or a bird caught in a snare. Who can say which bird or which fish will be trapped? (Ecc. 9:11-12). Because life is unpredictable, we know that not everything turns out as we might hope it would. There are just simply no guarantees in life. For the same reasons, merit is not always rewarded, and life can be unfair. It is often true that the race does not go to the swift, that the strongest does not always win the battle. But God is not the cause of these uncertainties in life but rather time and chance are often the culprits. The Bible is full of examples of individuals who lived for God, yet their lives were difficult to say the least. Consider Job. He was a righteous man, but his life was not what he may have expected. The apostle Paul certainly lived for God but even Paul experienced what we would call harshness and unfairness in his life.
Rather than focus on all the unfairness in life, what the faithful child of God should focus on is the fact that death is not the end; that there is a great day coming in which all of God’s people will live with Him in Heaven.
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)