Do you ever have doubts? Doubts about Jesus? Doubts about your relationship with him? Doubts about what will happen after you die? Solomon did, and he was honest enough to record his skepticism in his reflective journal. He also recorded how he distracted himself from these uncertainties.
Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
As Solomon reflects on his life “under the sun,” he saw a place where injustice lives. Oppressors oppress the oppressed. Many die too young. Evil people traffic children. All the evils in the world can be overwhelming to consider. And, because it seems so confusing and out of control, we start to wonder if God is really in control. Is his Word true? And ultimately, what will happen when we die? Solomon ponders the question, “Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward…?”
Solomon’s initial answer to his question was that no one could know for sure. And since you can’t know for sure, the best thing is to find a distraction and take your mind off your doubt. Take up a consuming hobby and put an unhealthy focus on your children or grandchildren. Solomon decided that a good doubt distraction would be to immerse himself in work. No one knows what comes afterward, so focus on the present. Build a few buildings. That was Solomon’s thinking at this point in his reflection.
But remember, you need to read Ecclesiastes backward. Solomon finally concludes that all that matters in life and eternity is a relationship with the living God. And when Solomon focuses on God and regains an eternal perspective, the doubts go away. He concludes that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). Our doubts are alleviated when we focus on Jesus. Through his work on the cross, Jesus gives us life now and forever. Everyone who believes in him will “rise again to a better life” (Heb. 11:35). Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). In Jesus, we have the assurance of our eternity.
Father, when doubts come, remind us of Jesus. When doubts come, remind us of the cross. When doubts come, remind us of Jesus’ death. When doubts come, remind us of Jesus’ resurrection. When doubts come, remind us that just as Jesus was raised to life, so shall we. When doubts come, fill us with your presence and courage. In Jesus’ name. Amen.