I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
Today is a day of national remembrance. It is not the first nor will it be the last. Generations living today remember the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated. Tragedy on a national level. Grief fills the heart for the innocence of those taken by brutal measures. Questions remain unanswered. Disbelief stains the guilt of the terrible day when our nation was awakened to the realization of man’s greatest inhumanity to man: hatred. Born from the seed of evil, hatred fills the headlines every day as men slaughter one another over prejudice, greed, wickedness and pride. Jealousy brings tragedy. Anger motivates killings. Death. How to understand it all.
The book of Ecclesiastes is about living and dying. Solomon offers a frank examination of life in all its beauty and all of its ugliness. These issues have not changed since the beginning of time. What happened to our nation on 9-11 is not a new condition but the malady of the same symptom planted in the hearts of men by Satan. Evil abounds in the world in many forms and often finds itself in a holocaust of events that staggers the mind. How to understand it all.
God does not remove the plans of evil men when they carry out their acts. Many would blame the Lord for the evil that happens. If this were true then we will have to blame Him for the evil we do. The hatred that draws men to kill thousands does not come from a heart that serves the Creator but a heart that is filled with the hatred of fellow man. Solomon addresses the question of the why in Ecclesiastes and shows that often the folly that comes upon man is the series of life events uncontrolled by the hand of God but measured by the natural course of life. Why do young people die? What explanation can be given for happy and wonderful people to be taken in the bloom of life? Why did 9-11 happen and so many innocent people die? How to understand it all.
There is a measure of life that is uncertain. Events befall us for reasons unknown. Solomon reminds us that for all that life offers the uncertainties of the events that come upon us are without warning. This does not remove the sorrow and heartache we feel when faced with the catastrophic loss of over three thousand people. We mourn. Hearts are heavy. Lives are remembered. Life goes on. Evil abounds. How to understand it all.
The apostle John writes, “For God so loved the world.” This is the only answer we have. It was the gift of God that offers us the only hope. Jesus came to take away our tears and sorrow. He offered himself on a cross that we can live. Death is horrible and we dislike its remembrance. In Christ we know that death will not have the victory. The tragedies of life will continue. Events like Pearl Harbor and 9-11 will happen again but beyond these days a great day is coming. A day when death and evil will be destroyed for good. Victory will be gained in the promise of He who loved the world so much He gave His only begotten Son to give a message of hope. That is how we can understand it all.
This is a direct act of hope to look through the cloud and look for a beam of the light from God. (Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living, 1650)