March 2, 2016

Ecclesiastes 11:10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless.

That sounds like a bitter old man! In the first place, if we could get rid of anxiety and physical problems purely by force of will, then everyone would always be happy and healthy. The thing is, when Solomon was youthful and vigorous he didn’t keep his focus on God and what He wanted him to do with his vigor. Solomon used the abundant gifts and abilities God had given him to amass material wealth and a huge harem, and that was indeed meaningless. Many people today have the same goals that young Solomon did, and they will find them to be just as empty as he did. Youthful flings are enjoyable at the time, but as Solomon discovered, they have consequences. God did not give us His laws to punish or bind us, but to protect us from destruction and guide us into genuine satisfaction and happiness. To take just one point as an example, psychologists tell us that the spousal relationship is the greatest single source of subjective happiness in the long term. As Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 make clear, such a monogamous relationship is exactly what God planned for us from the beginning, but many, like Solomon, aim for as many partners as possible, and destroy their happiness in the process. Youth and vigor are not meaningless, but they are to be exercised responsibly as gifts from God.

Having passed 65 by a bit, I have a very different perspective on this issue than I had, say, 50 years ago. I indeed had the usual share of youthful foolishness, but God was remarkably gracious in protecting me from the majority of my fantasies, matching me up with a wonderful partner from age 20, and I’ll have to say that I agree with the psychologists on the source of happiness issue. Age indeed brings its challenges. As has been said, growing old isn’t for wimps. However, when my focus is on God, living in obedience to and fellowship with Him, then the bumps in the road are no more than that, and not bottomless pits of remorse, as so many find. Right now we have new and very real challenges, but as God’s grace has been sufficient in the past, it will continue to be so in the future. I am to live each day as a faithful steward of all that God has placed in my hands, including that day itself, for His glory.

Father, yesterday was a pretty rough day emotionally. Thank You for getting us through it, and that Your mercies are indeed new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Help me be a good steward of today and all it holds, moment by moment, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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