BSTUD :: ECCLESIASTES 3:9-11.

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What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Bet you didn’t think I’d be doing one of these posts on a passage from Ecclesiastes.

I sat down with these verses the other day, asking God to help me understand how they fit together. As He answered that prayer, I began to see just how much they show God’s character and our identity relative to Him.

The first verse, verse 9, says: “What do workers gain from their toil?” A common theme in Ecclesiastes is wondering about meaning and meaninglessness. This question considers why the heck we work so hard all day long. It’s only gained more relevance as time has gone on and culture has progressed to turn us all into little worker bees.

Verse 10 continues: “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.” Following verse 9, it seems like that burden is hard work with little to no reward. But verse 11 changes the game.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God is the One who makes all things new and beautiful in His timing. He is before the beginning and after the end; He has put longing for eternity in our hearts, but not understanding for it in our minds.

How do a question about the worth of work, a statement about God’s burden for us, and a declaration of what God has done fit together?

As I sat with Him, God helped me make sense of it: The writer questions the meaning of work because He sees that so much of our work is futile, without God, striving for nothing that really matters. We work to achieve, when God has not placed an expectation for achievement on us. His burden for us is trusting who He is and what He is capable of. That’s why the writer switches pace to talk about how God has made everything beautiful in its time and no one can fathom His deeds. This passage shows that work outside God’s mission is worthless, because God has not placed a burden of work on us,  but of faith. His only requirement is that we trust Him, the One who makes everything beautiful in His timing, the One whose forever we long for but cannot comprehend. God’s gift of an eternal heart leads us to trust Him, because we have forever desires with worldly, transitory minds. We need to trust Him, because we can’t understand. We can trust Him, because He is who He is. Trusting Him is the “burden” He places on humanity, and that is why it makes absolutely no sense for us to slave away at work by ourselves, for ourselves.

God’s call is for strivings to cease. We may perceive it as a burden, because it’s hard to put aside our confidence in our own capabilities. But once we trust Him instead of ourselves, we discover a God who is infinitely more able, making more beauty than we can dream of, outside the realm of our tiny comprehension.

Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

John 6:29

(BSTUD is a blog series studying the Christian holy scriptures. BSTUD = B(ible) STUD(y). You can read more BSTUD posts here.)

BSTUD :: MATTHEW 22:9-10.

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‘So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Matthew 22:9-10

Just imagine: You plan a wedding, receive RSVPs from 150 guests, and then on the day of, no one shows. So you go out into the streets and invite 150 randos. Totally not weird, right?

Jesus tells this parable that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet. The king prepares the wedding banquet for his son and sends his servants out to tell the invited guests that it’s ready. But they ignore the invitation, and some even abuse and kill the servants. So the king drastically expands his guest list, inviting people right off the streets.

When I read this passage a few days ago, one particular phrase stood out to me: “Invite to the banquet anyone you find” (v. 9). I asked myself: Am I willing to be found?

Hiding from God isn’t new, even though it’s entirely futile. The first two people tried—and failed—to hide from Him in the Garden. In John 3, Jesus speaks about our tendency to cover up our ugly:

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

v. 20

When we do wrong and fall short, our first instinct is to run from our only remedy. We try to bury our sin in the depths of our hearts, where it grows roots and breeds shame. We hide. Then, when the King comes around to invite us into all He has to offer, we don’t want to be found. We’re embarrassed by our shortcomings. We wonder why He would want failures like us at His table. We fear being fully seen, because what if our perfect God rejects us, these imperfect sinners? The thought of Him knowing everything about us, inside and out, drives us into panic.

What we don’t understand is this: He’s not inviting us to His banquet so He can laugh at us, reject and ridicule us, turn us out when He sees our mess. He’s inviting us into the solution for all our problems. He’s inviting us to receive the grace we so desperately need. He’s inviting us into the relationship with Himself that we were meant for all along. He’s inviting us to know Him and be fully known by Him, in the intimacy we were created for. And He’s inviting everyone—but will we let Him find us so He can place the invitation into our shaking hands?

Are we willing to be found by our Father? I mean fully found: fully seen, fully known, and the best part—fully loved. Will we let the darkest parts of our hearts into His marvelous light? Will we stop hiding even the sin that floors us with shame, and step into the loving arms of our Father who can take all that pain away?

When we’re in hiding, it’s like a little kid who closes their eyes and thinks they can’t be seen. He sees us anyway. He’s God. So let’s quit pretending like we’ve got it all together without Him. He’s aware of the mess we’re in. We don’t have to hide; He already knows everything about us, everything we’ve done, all our fears and failures—and He still loves us. He still desires us. He still offers His mercy and extends His grace to us. He still wants us at the banquet, to feast on Jesus, the Bread of Life. He pursues us when we run, in a grace-filled chase scene. Even though we’ve made ourselves ugly and broken in sin, God desperately wants us with Him; may we be fully found by Him, so that we can receive His invitation and shout a thundering, exuberant yes in response. Then, the miraculous cleaning and healing begin.

(BSTUD is a blog series studying the Christian holy scriptures. BSTUD = B(ible) STUD(y). You can read more BSTUD posts here.)

INTRODUCING: BSTUD.

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B(ible) STUD(y) = BSTUD.

I know, I know, I’m so cool you almost can’t handle it.

Introducing… BSTUD, a new blog post series of little wisdom nuggets straight from Scripture.

A lot of the time, when I’m reading the Bible, I learn something cool that I want to share, but it’s too long for an Instagram caption and too short for a normal blog post. #relatable, right? I’m starting a new series to share the wisdom God gives me in mornings spent with Him. I hope you enjoy! Scroll alllllll the way to the bottom of this page to follow this blog and receive updates with each post as we dive into truth together. Thanks for reading!