Last week my family and I spent two fun-filled days at LEGOLAND down in Carlsbad. To promote the new attractions based on the popular Lego Movie franchise the park blasted the theme song from those films out of every speaker hidden among the shrubbery. “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU’RE PART OF A TEAM!” Non-stop. But when I arrived back at the hotel after hours of that song and watched news coverage of Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine I was harshly reminded how, in life, everything is not awesome. In fact, many things are tragic and terrible; Eastern Europe is at war, three young girls were shot in a church in Sacramento, inflation continues and our dollars are not stretching quite as far.
How do we make sense of such things? How do we process? For me, the book of Ecclesiastes has helped so much. It hasn’t given a deep and satisfying analysis of a wicked world leader’s thoughts and motives, but it has given me an outlet for my stress and heavy emotions. The pandemic, the war, the sinfulness of man, all these things can build up fear, anger, stress, and anxiety inside of us, and rightly so. Yet, what do we do to de-escalate? How do we navigate such choppy waters?
The dramatic language, the universal themes of human suffering, and the heavy emotional tone provide a funnel into which we can pour out all of those natural responses. Reading and listening to this book, for me, was like talking with a close friend who truly understands me and my pain. It is like a moment when someone close shares insight about me or a problem and I exclaim, “YES! That’s it. YOU get it”. Ecclesiastes gets it. That book understands our pain, it understands our confusion, and it understands the knot of anger and fear in our stomachs. God is the author of scripture, therefore, it means that God understands you. Ecclesiastes teaches us that only God is in control of life. It is comforting to know that he also understands the pain and puzzle of life.
So pick up Ecclesiastes again this week. Watch a past sermon online. Listen to a FBC sermon podcast. Consider reading the whole book in one sitting. But let it be a time to release your emotions in the presence of God’s word. That is a safe place. And in the company of the Lord everything truly is AWE-some.
By Derek North