Who Knows What Is Good For A Person?

Who Knows What Is Good For A Person?

Preacher Huijun - 5 December 2020

Weekend Devotion: Who Knows What Is Good For A Person?

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We tend to struggle over bad things happening in our lives. When good things happen, we will be happy, but when bad things happen, then we doubt God and grumble against Him. But in fact, how can we be sure what exactly is good or not good? Today, let us ponder upon the wisdom given us by the <Book of Ecclesiastes>.

<Ecc 6:12> For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

<Ecc 7>

1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
    than to listen to the song of fools.

14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

 

Man cannot discern what is good or bad.

When people read <Ecclesiastes 7>, many do not really understand why the Preacher describes seemingly negative things as the better thing. Why is death better than birth, mourning better than feasting and pleasure, frustration better than laughter, and rebuke better than song? Indeed, to the human mind, all these sound perplexing.

However, the Preacher has two main reasons. First, he wants to emphasize that everything under the sun, whether it is good or bad, is meaningless (cf. <Ecc 7:6; 1:2>. Second, he wants to highlight that even things which we perceive as bad may not necessarily be bad, because no one “knows what is good for a person” <Ecc 6:12>. Therefore, we should not be confined by conventional human wisdom, because God’s wisdom and perfect will are beyond what man can conceive and comprehend. Hence, what man considers to be good may not be good, and what man deems as bad may not be so too. For example, typical human wisdom will tell us that COVID-19 is not good, but is there truly no good in it? Does it really serve no meaningful purpose at all? It may have slowed down the economy but it also made people pause to think more about life and death matters. It has sadly taken lives away, but are there no lessons to be learnt from death? (I will talk about it in the next point, but…)

We must not be misled by our own wisdom and judgment, such that we easily get too excited or discouraged over the good or bad things in life. In fact, life is full of paradoxes and is a mixed bag of both the good and bad. Even when man is happy on earth, his heart will also know that earthly happiness is but short-lived and limited, it can be interrupted by sorrowful things any time. Because of this, hopefully man can yearn more for the heavenly joy which is eternal and cannot be threatened or taken away.

 

We need to find wisdom from death.

Today’s scripture cites death as an example. Now, death is like a taboo to people. It is also hard for people to appreciate how death can be good. Yet, even death has its benefits. The wise will put it in his heart to consider the ultimate end of man, which is death <Ecc 7:2>. Death can remind the living person not to run away from reality, or live in deception, or seek refuge from momentary pleasures and pretend that death will never come. Thus, the wise will live in the reality of death, but the fool only knows how to go after earthly pleasures. Actually, if every man will ultimately meet death as his final end, it is wise then that when we are still alive, we should think about things after death, accept the salvation of Christ, and receive the blessing of eternal life. Conversely, it is foolish to neglect thinking about these just because one hates death or thinks that death is still a far way off. No matter how man tries to escape, death will eventually visit everyone, thus the earlier we are prepared for it, the more we will not panic when we finally have to face it. Importantly, because everyone will leave this world one day, while we are still living here, we need to consider what is the true meaning of our short lives. If a person realises that whether one succeeds or fails on earth, he will also face death like everyone else, then he will not place excessive importance on the gains and losses of this life, but will pay more attention to spiritual, heavenly and eternal things.

 

Ultimately, it is still wise to put our trust in God.

When the Preacher says that everything is meaningless, we need to understand that in fact there are many things in life which we have no answers to, and no one man can say for sure what then is considered good. God allows prosperity and adversity to both exist as part of the human life, so that “no one can discover anything about their future” <Ecc 7:14>, and no one can control anything on their own. Ultimately, only when man sees the God who is in control behind everything and when he puts his faith in this God, then man can have answers and hope. When man looks at both prosperity and adversity from the point of view of God and His perfect will, then he can make sense of their good purposes. Prosperity brings joy to people; while adversity directs man to ponder about life, reality and human limitations, so that eventually man can rely on and surrender to the God who knows what is good and is in control of everything. Within both prosperity and adversity then, there is the love of God.

 

Brothers and sisters, when we see the meaninglessness and the paradoxes of life, we can look to God. In Him, even the “bad” can be made to work for our good and His glory; but outside of Him, even the “good” may not benefit us. Blessed are those who put their trust in the God who knows good and brings about good!

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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