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Nov 17, 2021

Ecclesiastes 8:10-15

The book of Ecclesiastes meets people right where they are. Someone has said, “Most people aren’t all that concerned about heaven or hell. They just want to know how to hack it on Monday.” That’s what Ecclesiastes does—it helps people make sense of the stuff that doesn’t make sense. 

In Ecclesiastes 8, we find two specific perplexities that have plagued humanity from the beginning. 1) Why do good things happen to bad people? 2) What do bad things happen to good people?

1) Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People? (vv. 10-13)

Solomon points out the fact that sometimes it seems that good things happen to bad people. He says, “It doesn’t make sense!” But Solomon does not let the frustrations and perplexities have the last word. Instead, he says, “In spite of all of this, I know it will still go better with people who follow God.” Solomon recognized that God and eternity, not culture and history, will have the final word.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re going to be on the wrong side of history; you’re on the wrong side of history”? Well, I’d rather be on the wrong side of history than the wrong side of eternity—AMEN?   

2) Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? (vv. 14-15)

The greatest observational perplexity this world has ever know is captured in the words “there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked”—that is, in plain language, bad things happen to good people. 

Rabbi Harold Kushner said this, “There is only one question that really matters: why do bad things happen to good people? All other theological conversations are intellectually diverting. Virtually every meaningful conversation I have ever had with people about God and religion has started with this question or gotten around to it before long.”

First remember that when we talk about “good” people, please understand that the idea of “good” people is an oxymoron—that is, it’s a contradiction. We tend to minimize the reality of evil in our hearts and in our world, and then when we encounter evil, we don’t know how to address it.

Is it OK to have doubts? Tim Keller says this, “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it . . . believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own, but their friends' and neighbors'.”

Solomon wrestled with perplexities like this nearly his entire adult life. And guess what he concluded? He concluded that he couldn’t make intellectual sense of it. Instead, he decided to rest in a simple faith in God and admit that he was never going to completely “figure it out” on his own.

Rest in the assurance of scripture that Jesus loves you and if you are a child of God’s, He will never leave your side, despite whatever pain and suffering you might encounter in this world.