Lately, whenever I’m in between novels and psychology books, I end up in Ecclesiastes.
I never stop being amazed (and comforted) that humans have been wrestling with the same exact questions for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Here’s today’s passage:
“There is no sense to this world: the righteous suffer while the wicked thrive. To expect things to conform to your logic is foolish; reality is not of your making.
Therefore, cease your agonizing and rejoice. There is nothing better for you than this:
Eat and enjoy what you eat; drink and enjoy what you drink. Do this and tranquility will accompany you throughout your trials and through all the days of your life under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes
Do you agree?
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Love this! I’m trying to find it in the bible… but I can’t. What chapter and verse is this from?
Yes, sometimes it feels like the world makes no sense. Rejoicing makes sense to me even if there’s nothing overtly obvious to rejoice about. I read recently that the secret to happiness is gratitude. That rings true.
I challenge myself to look for unusual things to be grateful for, like dirt . . . and worms. Yep. As a gardener, those are two essentials for a successful garden.
Another favorite is books, full of words, and libraries full of books, free for the borrowing. I’m grateful for parents who read stories to me, teachers who taught me to read and even one special children’s librarian who got me totally hooked on books in the third grade.
How about color vision? Colors are amazing. God made the world such a vibrantly colorful place, but without color vision we wouldn’t be able to appreciate its natural beauty.
What would you do if you were color-blind? I was surprised to hear that Monte Roberts, the horse whisperer, is color-blind. Not only that, he is grateful that he is color-blind and looks on it as a gift. He says that his color-blindness enabled him to see what others couldn’t see in horse’s communication dynamics. He attributes his amazing ability to communicate with horses to his color-blindness.
I’m grateful for my introverted character. I encounter many obstacles misunderstanding and even prejudice in the workplace. Like Monte’s color-blindness, I see introversion as a gift. It gives me a unique perspective on the world and allows me to see what many extroverts miss. They may think I’m missing out on the vibrant colors of an extroverted life, but I wouldn’t trade my introversion in for anything. (Even a Lexus.)
This is wonderful. I may add that I think the “eat” and “drink” refers moreso to an overall nouishment of life whether it be nutrition, mind, or soul nourishing.
If you read the entire book of Ecclesiastes Solomon’s message is clear. Life without God has no meaning. This is the beauty of the book. With God an uncertain and chaotic world becomes meaningful and purposeful.
14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.
15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night—
17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
I think there is by our nature an inner expectation that life should be fair, we feel from being a self a certain entitlement. We suffer all the more when we discover it is not, and we become that worst of all things, a victim. This verse says to me, do not look to the circumstances you find in life in search of fairness, but rather view life as an opportunity. I think for myself if I want to see life not as fair but as an opportunity, and rejoice in what is, then I’ll never be a victim. I have much to be grateful for. I think if I had lived a thousand years ago, I could have written this same sentence. Some things don’t change.
I LOVE your book,it’s helping my life out of a pit of pain and I am grateful for Jesus Christ who saved my life,those people in my life and you and your great book well done!!
I must say,to add to your excellent journey into Ecclesiates,that,with considering any passage within a book,esp. the Bible,that context is vital!,please consider the book in it’s fullness and look at this passage in light of your points Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
within the vanity and lack of purpose Solomon experienced,he came to the above conclusion at the end of that book,and that his creator,was the context from which all things derive their being,his futility is chasing after worldly pleasure was futile and vain and finally he sees God within it all having a purpose for everything,and so with this end in mind all his frustration with a seemingly useless reality finally took shape through God,remember when he “came to his senses” he wrote Proverbs (and others) and there God validated all the nonsense he was trying to figure out.
Your take on it,I believe,is good but not complete and whether you are reading a book or watching a movie,you have to read or watch the ending,this finally ties together everything that came previously and gave Solomon and us reason for living in what seems to be a meaningless existence,but its all part of God’s plan.
I am halfway through your book and dont want to finish it only because I dont want it to end
Well said Brian! I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m currently on my second reading of your book Susan. I must say that it’s as reaffirming the second time as much as the first.
[…] Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, wrote a blog post on Ecclesiastes Chapter 8. Here’s her original post.>>—-> How to Enjoy Tranquility Through All of Life’s Trials […]
[…] Susan Cain (@susaincain) put this passage from Ecclesiastes on her site the other week and it did jar me out of my micromanaging, trying to control every little thing, build the exact life I want. And holding on tightly to things. This passage kind of says to just stop all that. And rejoice in the small day-to-day things that life offers. Just being alive is pretty remarkable and each day should be viewed as a gift. […]
[…] came across this quote on Susan Cain’s web page in a post titled: How to Enjoy Tranquility Through All of Life’s Trials. I’ve been having a rough couple of months, in which at first i was having an internal apocalypse […]
This is really just a fancy way of saying “ignorance is bliss.” …. I don’t subscribe to that at all unfortunately.