7 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
8 Even those who live many years should rejoice in them all; yet let them remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
10 Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:7-10)
The wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes wrote "to warn against placing our hope in anyone or anything other than God." (Tremper Longman, The Life with God Bible).
It's a temptation we're all faced with in life. It's the idea that we can trust our "sound investment strategy" to carry us through an economic crisis. It's the notion that hard work is always the answer to providing for ourselves.; that, the only person we can depend upon is ourself. Or it's the idea we will always be healthy because we are at the moment.
These temptations are magnified in our youth and inexperience. We believe, "Things are the way they are because we've never known anything different." But unprecedented circumstances and crisis events reveal our naivety. The lay bare our basis assumptions, lay waste to our unrealistic expectations, and expose our underlying anxieties .
The wisdom writer brings perspective, encouraging us to brace for reality, but more importantly to banish our anxiety by accepting the truth of our circumstance and acknowledging the transient nature of our existence. We aren't in control but neither do our circumstances control us.
Life is to be enjoyed! God made us with desires to be fulfilled, dreams to be pursued, and yes difficulties to be endured. But there is something beyond our current circumstances, a greater reality than a brief life lived to the fullest on earth. Eternity stretches beyond! Our ultimate responsibility ,and our ultimate hope rests in God who made us. If we live in view of his judgment, we'll remember to hope and trust in him.
In the last verse of the section of scripture above, we're encouraged to "banish anxiety from our mind." That's a powerful message in these unsettled times. It begins with facing reality about our circumstances. Very few things in our lives are certain and under our control. Dark days are ahead. We grow old. We suffer. We die. We grieve. We mourn, but not as those without hope!
From the youngest to the oldest may we learn to banish anxiety by heeding Paul's counsel:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NRSV)