By Nightwatch Priest
The book of Ecclesiastes is deeply pessimistic in tone; it has been called a ‘Treatise on the Illusion of Life’. Vanity of vanities, said the preacher, “All is Vanity”.
The book begins by describing existence as a meaningless cycle of events. Men look but the eye is not satisfied with seeing. They listen but the ear is not filled with hearing. Men think they find something new but that is an illusion.
What would you require to have the really happy New Year that other people have been wishing you so freely of late? If wishes of those people were achieved almost nobody would be in sorrow or suffer in this New Year. But the question I’ll ask you is when does the year become old? February or June?
Back to the quest for happiness some of you would be happy on the following conditions:
1. More income per month
2. A house or another
3. A job or a better one
4. A partner or a new one
Your pastors cannot offer you any of these things but they can help you to pray and God will answer yes, no or wait.
Now let me ask you: Does your happiness depend on your circumstances or yourself? Important as the circumstances are I insist that the fount of happiness must be from God in ourselves.
I have known people who had all the goodies of life – houses, cars good men or women, fat bank accounts, etc. – and yet rose miserable. “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions? Luke 12:15. I have known many people who live on less than Le10,000 (ten thousand Leones) a day.
“A contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if, in the present life, his happiness arises from the subduing of his desires, it will arise in the next from the gratification of them” – Addison
Lady Emelda Marcos of the Philippines had about one thousand pairs of shoes. If that is not an extreme case of vanity that the Preacher wrote about tell me what it is! On the other side of the vanity scale the late Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran who carried out the greatest revolution in the 20th century had only one box for all his possessions in this world. Can you beat that?
Don’t think that I am despising circumstances – but they are a means to an end and not an end in themselves.
In early New Testament times, capital punishment was sometimes carried out by tying a murder victim’s body directly onto the perpetrator’s back. That way wherever he went he was literally weighed down by his crime with no way to escape the stanching of the decomposing flesh. Eventually the bacteria filled corpse infected him and he died an agonizing death.
Some days Paul felt the weight of his old nature pressing in, reminding him of things from his past that he couldn’t change or eradicate. And recognizing how past events can colour the present. Paul describes himself as a wretched man and asks “who will rescue me from this body of death?”
The fact is that you can’t move ahead with the old man still clinging to you. You must bury him.
I cannot promise you a new set of circumstances this 2018. Indeed, I anticipate for myself and for you difficulties, disappointments and obstacles, whether you regard yourself as the most holy person on earth for that is life. No year has dawned without these phenomena.
But in the name of him who sits on the throne if you will receive him in your heart you will have a new life, a new birth.