Between the reports of racism once more ignored, sexual violence and trauma abundant, and just the toil of the day to day, our last words to each other before finally falling asleep were, “I am overwhelmed. Jesus, come save.”
Disappointment slides thick and gooey all over the pages of Ecclesiastes, the teacher’s autobiography beginning right before chapter two as he indulges his indulgences as meaningless, unhelpful. Delineating between that which brings enjoyment and that which can fully satisfy is limiting and exclusive, but it doesn’t stop him from trying. Especially as he sees life in light of our inevitable end, no matter who you are, he preaches in his own way about balancing the emotions that may dictate our days requiring not an ignorance, but a new sort of wisdom. As many have said before, we long for Eden, and it is not here yet.
I wish things were easy, tidy, simple and formulaic. But most of us know that even those who have followed the “rules” have seen that even obedience doesn’t come out to the success we think we deserve and crave in this world; in fact, oftentimes obedience has put us in places of risk, want, and even death. Things are not clear-cut, not black and white, but muddied in the waters we find ourselves in and even are ourselves.
The answer to our disappointment with the way things are is not a cheerful face and positive answer. Many may shout, “count it all joy,” pushing down and away that which feels unacceptable. Yet, these are things we must pass through. Hope is hard to muster, and Qohelet makes it plain that even that hope must be a gift received. As Eswine calls this life “untidy,” we look at our hands and consider our own deeds and thoughts unclean.
We may be tempted to run to the old adage that even the assembler tries for himself, “ignorance is bliss.” Our tired hearts would prefer it most nights after carelessly running through the endless supply of evil events in our world. We hold a messy tension in our hands, and as we seek to quiet its voice through something other than the lament of Maranatha and the pressing in to the mass of goodness that does surround us, though undeserved, we come up ever thirsty, parched.
With little pockets of Shalom, we live in dependence in this world that values independence; we are upside-down people following a crucified and yet alive King. We wait.