Several years ago, there was a study of Americans wellbeing. One of the conclusions was that Americans were smiling less and worrying more. The study observed that the real problem came down to one word: uncertainty! People don’t know what’s going to happen. Isn’t most of our worry and fears over what we don’t know?
In Ecclesiastes 11, in the first 6 verses there is a phrase that is used 3 times. It is the phrase, “You do not know.” End of verse 2 says, “You do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” Verse 5, “You do not know the path of the wind.” Then in the middle of verse 6, “You do not know which will succeed.”
You do not know! Uncertainty! How is it contributing to your unhappiness right now? How does it have you all in knots inside? You have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.” Well, in Ecclesiastes 11, the message is: “Life is uncertain, embrace it.” I want to surface three principles from Ecclesiastes 11: 1-6.
Principle #1: Only those who make an investment see a return on their investment. Verse 1, “cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” This verse has nothing to do with feeding ducks. “Casting your bread upon the waters” is a proverbial expression, a business proverb, that addressed the merchants who would load their ships with grain and then send those ships off to sea. In other words, load up your ships with grain, with bread and go across the sea with it to the other side and sell it abroad. But they would not know for days what would come of their investment. Here’s the point: you won’t see a return on your investment unless you make an investment. Some are waiting for their ship to come in, when they haven’t even sent one out.
Principle #2: Don’t wait until you have all the facts, act!
In verses 3-4 Solomon gives us some agricultural realities. The farmer does not know if what he sows will be washed away by a flood. He does not know if the wind might take down a tree that lands on his barn. He does not know! But he must sow his seeds diligently anyway. If a farmer waits for perfect conditions before he plants, he will never get around to planting anything. That is how some people go about their lives. They will do nothing until all the information is in. It is commonly called, “Paralysis of analysis.” If we wait for ideal conditions before we read that book or practice the discipline of prayer and study of God’s Word or wait to have every one of our questions answered before we choose to live for Christ, or for everything to fall into place before we walk in obedience, then we will do nothing! Don’t wait until you have all the facts, act! Because you don’t know. That’s where most of life is lived.
Principle #3: Don’t try and figure out God’s plan, trust!
There are many mysteries in life. Solomon lists three of them in verse 5. He says we do not know the way the wind blows. Secondly, we do not know how that baby is formed in the womb. Even though modern technology allows us to see that activity in the womb, we still don’t understand it. Solomon then adds a third mystery- we cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things. We cannot get our minds around His plan. We do not know what He is going to do before He does it. We do not know why He did what he did! It is all a mystery.
What do we do with all that mystery? Verse 6 answers that. It says, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Life is uncertain. Embrace it! Our future is not in the hands of one leading us blindly. God can see what we can’t see. He has more information than we do. In fact, he knows everything. He knows what we don’t know. So, we must trust him with what we know and we must trust Him with what with what we don’t know. We can live well in an uncertain world. Sow our seeds and leave the results with Him. He can be trusted with them.
In trust of Him, Pastor Brian
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