Why? Why? Why?
Do you ever want to know why?
Right now why is on my mind? Why? Well, I think I have an idea at least in this moment, but a lot of times we want to know why and we don’t have an answer.
Simon Sinek, the leadership author, tells us what to do in his famous book, Start with Why? The title says it all. We need to start with why. Now of course, he’s referring to leadership, since one must start with why in order to solidify their mission. But is this any different in our personal lives? We often want to start with why.
I like to know why on just about anything. I’m not content to know what something does. I want to know why it does what it does. When I find the why, I can make sense of it. I can understand it.
On Oct 4, the Jewish celebration of Sukkot begins. This is the celebration sometimes known as the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths. It takes place at the end of the harvest season and is meant to be a time to be thankful for God’s provision and protection as He brought the people out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness. They lived in tents or booths during that time, hence the name. The celebration is also meant to be a time to be thankful for God’s supply as the harvest has come to a close.
One of the traditions during this festival is to read the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Now back to the why. There does not seem to be a consensus as to why Ecclesiastes is read. People have written about this tradition but there does not seem to be a common agreement as to why this is done or where this part of the tradition comes from.
Why this tradition is done is really a small matter, but here’s what I know, and I’m sure you know as well. In life, we don’t always get an answer when we ask why. Sometimes things take place and we immediately ask why, yet no answer is returned. Why did they get sick? Why does life have to hurt so much sometimes? Why did that tragedy happen?
Recently a tragedy took place in Las Vegas. We ask why. Silence. In those moments what do we cling to? There is no why to help us make sense of it. It’s in times like this that it is helpful to cling to what we do know.
So with Sukkot about to begin, let me offer four thoughts from Ecclesiastes for times of uncertainty:
- Life is seasonal.
There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
The beauty of a season is that it changes. Things don’t stay the same. Tragedy does not last. It hurts and is often not understood in the moment, but it will pass. Times of joy will return. Everything has a season.
- Life is broken.
Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.
How is it that evil seems to rule at times? Why does God allow some things to happen when He has the power to stop it? There might be ways to explain that, but one thing is sure. The brokenness of this world was not the original creation. The world is not as it was meant to be. God, however, is in the business of making all things new.
- Life is meaningful.
Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13
So remember your Creator in the days of your youth:
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.
Ecclesiastes gets a reputation as being a negative book because the writer continues to state throughout that all is vanity. Vanity actually has the idea of disappearing. Life is here for a moment and then it is gone. The conclusion though is not that life is meaningless, but that a true, meaningful, and purposeful life is tied to the Creator.
- Life is judged.
For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
God is on His throne, and as the one on the throne, He is the one who judges. God sees the evil and tragedy of this world. Evil may have its season, but God ultimately will judge. Evil does not go unanswered.
I hope you find these Sukkot thoughts encouraging. We are looking forward to experiencing this celebration. On Friday, Carissa will bring a review of our experience on the first two nights.