Monday, 19 November 2007

Ecclesiastes 7:1-5

Today I met someone facing a tough choice. It was a student who had fallen out with another girl in school. It happens all the time. Students regularly fall out and get angry about things. It's normal. My role in school is often to help each student think about the choices they have through and after the arguments/fighting. The choices they make are really important and when they're angry with something someone else has done, they face the same though choice that we all do when this happens...

'Do I...
a) ...go face the person and try to resolve it calmly?'
b) ...avoid them and try not to think about it?
c) ...let the whole thing slide and pretend it never happened?'
d) ...do something that will ultimately make matters worse?'

We all face tough choices. We face them because of tough things in our lives that we can't run away from. Today Solomon talks about facing tough realities...


Solomon says that true wisdom is what's best for us in life and true wisdom means facing up to tough realities. He mentions frustration but mainly the ultimate tough reality: death.

Wisdom means facing up to the tough realities and choices. It means dealing with that person we're angry with, or forgiving them, or making time for someone to resolve a problem or to hear them out when we disagree with them. Wisdom means making the tough choice because we know that if we try and take the easy road, it will ultimately be more difficult and worse.

This applies in everyday situations of frustration like we've already mentioned but it also applies to the ultimate tough reality: death. Wisdom faces up to the fact that we're all going to die. Wisdom acknowledges death and prepares for it even though it would be easier to pretend it's all fine and doesn't matter. It does matter and it's tough.

If we think we'll be happier avoiding the tough issues, Solomon reminds us how wrong we are. I don't think Solomon wants us to be miserable though. He doesn't say we should face the tough issues so that we can be down on ourselves. Quite the opposite. Experience has taught him that real joy comes from facing those tough issues with God's help and moving on through them, rather than trying to run away or pretend they're not real. That's why he says 'a sad face is good for the heart' (v3). Real joy includes times of sadness and struggle. It's what real life is about and without them, we're not really living at all.

As you reflect on these words today, think about the tough situations you're facing at the moment. They might be small or they might be huge. You might want to think about the ultimate tough reality - death. Whatever it is, ask God to help you to face the tough reality and with his miraculous help, to step into it with confidence as he leads you to do the right thing, even if it's really tough. It might even mean taking the tough advice when you'd rather listen to the easy options your friends are telling you about (v5). Choose wisdom!