Ecclesiastes 6:10 begins with what appears to be one of the most fatalistic statements imaginable. It says, “Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be.” The New English Translation puts it this way, “Whatever has happened was foreordained, and what happens to a person was also foreknown.” The concepts of predestination and God’s foreknowledge have caused many to stumble in their faith and some to
IMG_3347simply reject their faith. It is impossible for man to fully comprehend the mind and ways of God. The famous English poet Milton who wrote “Paradise Lost,” explains in one of the earliest prefaces that his purpose was to justify God’s ways to man. A. E. Houseman, in his poem “Terrence, This is Stupid Stuff,” presents us with a character who argues “Ale does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.” It’s hopeless! Houseman’s character continues, “Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think: Look into the pewter pot to see the world as the world’s not.”

Solomon’s point has been that life is a dead-end street for those following the roads of pleasure, possessions, power, popularity and even productivity. There is no satisfaction to be found at the end of those rainbows. But life is also a dead-end street for those who demand answers to all of life’s complex questions. We must learn to live between the tensions of what appear to be contradictory truths. God is sovereign, yet within His sovereignty we must find room for man’s responsibility. Even so, there are some things in life we were not meant to understand. I like the way Wiersbe explains this. He says, “There are some questions about life that nobody can answer. But our ignorance must not be used as an excuse for skepticism or unbelief. Instead, our ignorance should encourage us to have faith in God. After all, we don’t live on explanations; we live on promises.”

This was brought home tome last week. In the emergency room after I broke my right arm (yes, I’m pecking this out left handed!) I was shown the x-ray of my broken bone. The doctor explained the x-ray to me. He said, “This is a midline numeral fracture. …It is not especially comminuted. If it was higher up / closer to the shoulder we almost always let these heal without surgery. This fracture being a little lower may pose a little dilemma. The muscles actually pull it together but it may still angulate which would not be good.” He went on to explain that they would check it again and “If the angulation is too much you may need an intramedullary rod or a plate and screws.” My point is that while the explanation was helpful, it didn’t heal anything. I have found this to be true in ministry as well. Explanations, answers to peoples’ questions, don’t really solve peoples’ problems. That’s why God didn’t give suffering Job the answers he demanded. He simply challenged Job to trust Him. Indeed we don’t live on explanations, but on promises.