Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-14; 4:9-12; 5:1-7
Depression is difficult to predict and understand. When I was a student at the local community college many years ago, I became interested in playing tennis. For the first time in my life I observed the game, and there was one young man in particular who was worthy of observation. Although I knew him only by name, he was an extremely good looking and talented athlete, probably the best tennis player in the area.
My perception was that he had it all. Fast-forward a couple of years. I’m working a summer job in a Christian camp, and our lifeguard tells me the sad story of this same young tennis star committing suicide.
I was dumbfounded; she was suffering, and she asked me about his eternal destiny. I gave her the best answer I knew at the time. In retrospect I probably gave her a poor answer, a non-comforting answer. She and her friends were unaware of their friend’s internal struggles. This hurting young man obviously felt empty inside. I surmise he asked the question “why?” Sadly, he did not discover a reason to live.
The Teacher’s theme is that God has made everything appropriate in His time. He acknowledges we only partially understand the ways of God. Just as there are seasons in nature, there are seasons in life. We cannot fully predict or control them, yet we must learn to accept them. One of his conclusions is that the best we can do is to rejoice and enjoy life. Another insight, found in 4:9, is to not make life’s journey alone. Good companions are compared to the increased strength of a three-strand cord.
Unlike a single strand (the solo life), it is not easily broken. God made us relational, and having good friends certainly is a good deterrent to loneliness and depression.
Furthermore, in 5:1-7 the Teacher calls for personal integrity. Fear God. Fulfill your spiritual vows. What you do is of far greater value than what you say.