This fall I’m teaching an online class: The Gospels, the Life of Jesus. In a recent assignment the students were to find a current events article that somehow connects to what we had been studying in the Gospel of Mark. One student found an article which reported that more than likely, even if there is a Covid vaccine in late 2020 or early 2021, we will have social distancing regulations, including wearing masks, into 2022. Why? Because it will take time to vaccinate the entire globe, and for enough people to develop herd immunity.
You know what the student said in her paper? “It makes my blood boil.”
I told her that I respected her honesty. She is sick and tired, she said, of wearing masks, of having to take online courses, of being separated from her friends, of losing her job after only three weeks, and on and on the frustrations go, all because of Covid. What she said resonates with so many of us during this banner year of 2020. It’s not just Covid, but politics, racial tension and natural disasters. Nonstop for almost the whole year. It just doesn’t seem right, she said. It seems off. It seems unfair.
Open your Bibles to Ecclesiastes 8:9, because the Teacher is saying almost the same thing. This section, chapter 8, verses 9-15, is part of a longer section, 7:15-10:20, that my Old Testament Professor at Seminary, Dr. Dorsey titles, “Advice for living wisely.” Let’s see what wisdom the Teacher (the writer of Ecclesiastes) has to day that can help us, people living in a year that seems unfair and unjust.
Dorsey translates it like this: “9 I observed all these things and thought about everything that happens in the world. Sometimes people gain power over others and bring them great harm. 10 I have seen the wicked buried and eulogized in the very city where they did their evil—but such praise has no ultimate significance. 11 People dare to do all kinds of evil because the punishment for such wrongdoing does not occur instantly.”
Have you seen in your life what the Teacher describes?
Maybe you’ve been treated poorly by a bully, and while you are suffering, the bully becomes captain of the team, dates the popular kids.
Or maybe your boss is total jerk, but people continually fall over themselves to impress the boss or do business with the boss, and the boss gets richer and richer. And the boss believes they are successful because of their meanness, which they call firmness, boldness or assertiveness.
There has been plenty of this in Christian circles. We could all probably name people, people who held important roles in our lives, or in organizations or churches who have fallen from grace because of sinful patterns in their lives that went against what they were publicly speaking about. It can be so discouraging when the people who we look up to fail us. We think, “Geesh, if they, who seem so put together, so wise, so faithful, if they can’t make it, then I am doomed.” And we can feel like life is hopeless. We can take a really negative view of things, can’t we?
Sometimes life DOES seem hopeless. How do we live wisely then? Check back to the next post as the Teacher shares his wisdom with us.