Ecclesiastes: When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

Ecclesiastes 8:14
There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Life doesn’t always make sense. Some things we experience just don’t fit nicely into our box of expectations. We like to be in control, and we can control things we understand that fall into our line of thinking…but…when we can’t understand how and why things happen…the control eludes us. David Gibson writes about this in a book called Living Life Backward.

In some measure we can’t understand how the world works, but why does it always rain on the days when you don’t bring your umbrella? Why is the line you don’t join in the supermarket always quicker than the one you do? Why do you feel low, even when you can’t really put a finger on the specific cause? Why do people you know and love die young or suffer long-term ill health while the dictator lives in prosperity into his old age?¹

We could add our list of “Why’s”:

  • Why have you provided Mr. or Miss Right for my non-Christian friend but not for me?
  • Why did my church-going husband leave, and her non-Christian husband is a model for marriage?
  • Why can’t we have a child, and they are on number six?
  • Why do people who are godless seem to experience blessing?

Why do the godless prosper? There is a long line of people asking that question, and the first in line was a man named Asaph, who wrote Psalm 73. Asaph lamented that he had kept his heart clean, and the wicked increased in riches and lived long “fat and sleek” lives. Asaph said, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end” (Psalm 73:16-17).

We will not always know the ways of God. But we know they are always right and good. And his ways are eternal. This life will not always make sense—until that first step into heaven. Then everything will finally fit together.

Father, we trust you even when we can’t understand. We follow you even when the fog covers the path and it’s hard to see. We believe in you even when doubt and darkness invade our hearts. We love you even when our emotions are dulled by disappointment. Even with our questions, we cling to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


¹ David Gibson, Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 21.


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