Day 15: The uncertainties of life (6:12)
“For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun” (6:12)?
“Everything that happens was already determined long ago, and we all know that you cannot argue with someone who is stronger than you. The longer you argue, the more useless it is, and you are no better off. How can anyone know what is best for us in this short, useless life of ours – a life that passes like a shadow? How can we know what will happen in the world after we die?” (6:10-12 GNT.)
The one thing in life we can be certain of is that it is short (we mean really short – ask someone who has reached their three score years and ten allocation and they will confirm how quickly their life has passed) and that during the course of that life, regardless of whether or not one has plotted what is to happen, there will be uncertainties and unexpected events that have a bearing, and likely many of them, and all of which will take us off in directions we can hardly imagine. The fact that everything that happens has been already long determined and, however much we may try to argue, we are unable to make much of a difference, begging the question that there is likely a lot more to life than what goes on under the sun – but what is it? Knowing what is best for us is also a challenge, for the Preacher argues we not only do not know but we cannot know. As for life, it is short and useless (vain) and, in the bigger scheme of things, it passes like a mere shadow and we are relatively insignificant nobodies. As for what will happen to the world when we depart from it, according to the Preacher, we are not in position to say, other than life goes on. All of which makes depressing reading, and while he has made suggestions of how to make the most of our “miserable” existence, we have to wait to the final chapter to make significant sense of how things can be for us.
Given life is short, full of uncertainties and there is so much in life that we have little control over, the question is begged – what are we going to do about it? We need look no further than the words of Jesus and His call upon our lives to be true disciples of His, but this needs us to recognise there is only true purpose in life beyond the sun: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark 14:34-37)?
Prayer: Thank you for reminding us that life is short and uncertain and we cannot even tell what will come next, but we can follow you Lord. Please help us do so.