Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 7:11-14, 15-18; 8:10-12, 16-17
He was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. Through his boyhood years his family would move to Indiana, then to Illinois. He endured a strained relationship with his father, who was described as illiterate and lazy. This young man, Abraham Lincoln, believed in education and hard work. He worked first as a shopkeeper, then as a postmaster, and finally became a store owner. He loved conversing with people and became a master at storytelling. Later he would teach himself law, and become an activist for the rights and freedoms of all peoples in an era where there were few who stood up for the rights of slaves. His path to the White House, however, was not without setbacks. He unsuccessfully sought to unseat Sen. Stephen Douglas. While a lesser man might have quit and returned to a successful law practice, Abraham Lincoln pressed ahead. He famously said, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards.” In the 1860 national election Lincoln won, defeating Douglas this time around. He realized slavery was an issue that might very well divide the country, and by the time of his inauguration in 1861, seven southern states had already seceded. The next three plus years would test his mettle as a politician and as a believer in God. His decision to formally end slavery as an American institution lacked popular support, yet President Lincoln chose that which was right over that which was expedient.
In these passages the Teacher deals with one of the great contradictions of life. The righteous, those who fear God, cannot help but question the observed lack of divine retribution exacted on those who are the most wicked. The wicked seem to prosper, and some people even praise them for their subterfuge. And when they are finally caught, it seems to take forever for justice to be properly adjudicated. The best we can do is to not get distracted or discouraged, but to be faithful to God, love life, serve others, and leave our future and its final results to God.