says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.’
What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
All things are wearisome, more than one can say…”
And I would add one thing more that makes no sense. The world we live in is one in which too much of something is harmful to people in one part of the world and too little of the exact same thing is equally harmful to people in another area.
For example, as I was reading in the latest edition of Compassion International’s “Compassion” magazine (Ok, it was the Winter edition, but since I live in Africa and it takes longer to get here the Spring, or even Summer, edition might be out by now.), I was struck by the irony of a report of the worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa (yes, that’s where we live) and another report of monsoon rains and typhoons causing the worst flooding in Thailand in 50 years on the opposite page.
So, on one continent, in one hemisphere, too little water, a resource so vital to life, causes drought, famine, dehydration, malnutrition, and violent conflict over water sources when fresh water is unavailable and wells are dried up. At the same time, on another continent, in the opposite hemisphere, too much of the same, normally life-giving resource becomes, instead, the thing that takes life away through drowning, the rapid spread of diseases, and the destruction of the local food supply and infrastructure.
How does one make sense of a broken planet that was created to give and sustain life but, instead, seems to take it away? How does one understand the complexity that makes up the problems that our world faces today and in the future? To state that God’s word has a simple and east answer would be to underestimate the magnitude and complexity of the issues at hand and reduce their significance. I do believe, however, that the Bible isn’t silent on the issue.
To continue the theme of the book of Ecclesiastes from above,
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
And what did Jesus say about the law?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
“Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
For more information on the drought in the Horn of Africa see the Oxfam East Africa Blog.
For more information on the 2011 flooding in Thailand see the Planet Save website.