Learning humility is a lifelong process. Humility is living with what you don’t like. That statement really strikes a chord within me… To go from being healthy, active, and independent to being dependent on a walker, or even a scooter, to just simply go from point A to point B is humbling! Add in all the glares and stares from people because my legs don’t physically work like theirs….it hurts! But life goes on… When this disease first manifested itself, I was humiliated to have anyone see me in this condition. So believe me when I say, I’ve learned humility (and I’m still learning).
Beginning with verse 2, Solomon talks about obeying the king. A citizen who is under the power and control of a king is humbled by having to obey…
”Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.” Ecclesiastes 8: 2-3, 5-6
When we read this, think of Paul’s message about submitting to civil authority (Respect for Authority…Romans 13), because it’s what God requires of us. Being in a situation you can’t control is humbling. As long as what we are being asked to do doesn’t disobey God, we must do it. I’m thinking of the recent presidential election…again, being in a situation you can’t control is humbling.
The remainder of Chapter 8 seems to be screaming… Humility is accepting what you can’t change! Verses 8-14 emphasize the fact that so much of life is uncontrollable. Isn’t it true that whenever we think we have a pretty good grip on things…that’s when all hell breaks loose?!? Solomon tells us that there are four things we’ll never be able to control;
(1) DEATH (2) PAIN AND SORROW ~ we gain wisdom by focusing on God, because He will never disappoint. (3) DECEPTION ~ in verse 10, Solomon talks about how wicked people fool others into believing that they are good and righteous. (4) DEFIANCE ~ rebellious people who shake their fists at authority – ultimately in the face of God.
“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15
This is Solomon’s recommendation as the remedy for life’s unanswered questions. Let us learn to enjoy what God has given to refresh and strengthen us as we continue His work.