Week of October 8
How's Your Uplook?
By Skip Heitzig
Solomon, Israel's third king, was very wise, but he wasn't exactly a "glass is half-full" kind of person. Ecclesiastes, his treatise on life, is the journal of a pessimist. In it, he talks about trying many things to find fulfillment, only to see his disillusionment grow. Intellectualism, wine, women, song—he pursued all of them, and found them all empty. He acquired things, he built things, he amassed wealth. But the hole inside him got bigger and bigger.
He realized he would die just like anyone else, and he hated his life and his work. Then he realized he might leave it all to a fool, and so he despaired. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," he said in the end (Ecclesiastes 1:2 and 12:8).
Think of the things that Solomon did in his life—building a great city including the Jewish temple, composing thousands of songs and proverbs about wisdom, etc. His response to everything? "All was vanity and the grasping for the wind." (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
Yet even in his pessimism he displayed wisdom, because in the middle of this dismal outlook on life he had a sudden flash of insight. He looked up, and he considered God: "Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God" (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
Your outlook depends on how you view a situation. When the twelve spies went into Canaan to scout out the territory (see Numbers 13), ten of them saw danger, because of the size of the inhabitants of the land. But the other two saw victory, because they recognized the Lord was on their side. It was their "uplook" that made the difference. Likewise, Solomon looked around and saw vanity, but then he looked up and saw hope. It was the same guy, but with a different perspective.
The best translation of Ecclesiastes 2:25 says, "For who can eat or who can have enjoyment without Him?" And verse 26 continues, "God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight."
Nothing produces enough enjoyment to carry us through life. Any job can be mundane and monotonous, can make you bored and discontented—unless you place God in the center of it. God can replenish your joy.
Contrast Solomon and his lavish lifestyle with some humble but happy saint whom you know. You can be that one. It depends on your outlook, and your "uplook."
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