God has you in his hands? (Is that just Christian mumbo-jumbo?) – Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:10, Part 2

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

What do you think about the title of this post? God has you in his hands. Christians have been saying that kind of thing for centuries. Is it true? Or is just Christian mumbo-jumbo, feel-good nonsense? As we continue our study in Ecclesiastes, the Teacher (the writer of Ecclesiastes) has some ancient wisdom for us, and it involves that phrase. Will he agree with the phrase? Will he disagree? He tends to have some unconventional viewpoints. What will he say about God?

First, we need to remember the context of the Teacher’s larger argument. We cannot know when we will die, the Teacher reminded us in the previous post. So why is the Teacher bringing this up?  Look at what he says in chapter 9:1-4a.

Dorsey’s Translation: “9:1 I pondered and considered all of this. I concluded that even in the case of the righteous and the wise, what happens to them is in God’s hands.  No one, including the wise, can know whether easy times or hard times await him.  2 All that can be known for certain is that the same fate awaits everyone—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.  The same destiny awaits good people and sinners, those who take oaths and those who refuse to take them.  3 Whatever happens to people in this life, the same fate awaits them all.  Whether a person’s heart is full of evil or praise while he lives, in the end he will join the dead.  4 Anyone who is still among the living can be sure of this one thing.”

We’ve heard this from the Teacher before, haven’t we?  Look at verse 3: We will all die.  Just saying that makes me think, “Geesh, this is depressing stuff, Teacher.  Why do you have to harp on death over and over again?”  But remember that this entire section from the middle of chapter seven through the end of chapter ten is advice for living wisely.  So what is the wise advice is these dark words? It just seems like a cold, depressing view of harsh reality. Is there any wisdom here? The Teacher’s advice here is that we need to face the hard truth of our mortality.  We cannot know when we will die, but we need to come to grips with the fact that one day we will die.

Yet ours is a world that wants to avoid death.  I don’t blame anyone who thinks that you would like to avoid death, or that you don’t want to talk about death. I am not a fan of death. I often lament the fact that my hair is getting grayer, that my body has more aches and pains than it did ten years ago.  I wish I didn’t have those constant reminders of the aging process, of the fact that I will die. 

Still the Teacher is right.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you will die.  But that’s not all he said.  Did you notice verse 9:1, the phrase in bold above: “What happens to them is in God’s hands.”?

We are not alone! God is living and active, and very involved in our lives.  Read that again: God is living and active and very involved in our lives. 

Do you hear that and think, “Yeah, that’s the standard Christian view.  I’ve heard it a million times. But it doesn’t seem like God is involved in my life.”  We don’t have to look hard in 2020 and the unsettling question rises to the surface of our hearts and minds, “Where are you, God?” 

Oftentimes at the heart of some of our fears is the thought that we might be alone, not cared for, unheard, or misunderstood.  But when we have knowledge of and experience of God’s involvement in our lives, the uncertainties of this life might not grip us quite so much.  Here’s the thing: we can know God’s involvement in our lives.  That’s why the Teacher’s reminder here is so important:  God is with us.  He is FOR us.  He adores us.  He is not surprised by anything in this life.  He didn’t make all the bad things happen. He is a good God and will only do good; he has no part of evil.  He is not surprised by the difficulty and evil in the world, and he has not left any of us alone.   

If the fact of your death freaks you out, as it does me, know that God is able to handle it.  He has you in his hands.  Clearly God doesn’t have physical hands that he is actually holding you in.  When the Teacher says that God has you in his hands, the Teacher is using figurative language to say that “God is all knowing, all powerful, all present, and all loving. He is infinitely able to take care you, and he wants to take care of you.”  We need not become hopeless about death or about anything that might lead to death because of the way God showed his love for us in Jesus.  Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to have forgiveness of our sins, for us to be in right relationship to God, and thus to have assurance of abundant life now and eternal life after death.  If you don’t know that assurance, I would love to talk further with you.

That assurance of abundant life and eternal life doesn’t mean you won’t feel hopeless or defeated from time to time because of the difficulties of life that.  It is natural to feel down when life is hard, but you don’t need to get stuck there.  Refocus on who our God is and the very active role he wants to play in your heart, your thoughts, your attitudes, your choices, your life–all for your good!

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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