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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Hidden Meanings

Sometimes people say things that make you scratch your head and go, "Huh?" While playing in the 2003 Bob Hope Classic golf tournament, Yogi Berra said, "If I'd have hit that harder, I'd of missed it closer." Huh? Brad Miller, Indiana Pacers center, commenting on the team's struggles during the 20022003 season, said, "It's not going to be peaches and gravy all the time." Huh? And Seattle Sonics guard Ray Allen once came up with this bit of wisdom — "Every time we've lost, it's because we didn't score enough points." Huh? (All three quotes from Reader's Digest, August, 2003,p 194) King Solomon scratched his head a lot in Ecclesiastes. What he saw in life often caused him to wonder out loud what life is all about. Consider Ecclesiastes 8:14 - "There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless" (NIV). Meaninglessness (vanity, KJV/NKJV) is a key idea in Ecclesiastes, perhaps because Solomon often wrote from the "under the sun" perspective (29 times in the book), as if this life is all there is. He comes clean in Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 and admits that much about God and life and how God works is a mystery to him — "When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it." Complete comprehension of God and all His working, says the wise man, is beyond the reach of man's reason and logic (unless aided by faith)! It's not that Solomon doesn't believe in God. He does, and earlier gave clear expression to his faith — "I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked.... because he does not fear before God" (8:12-13).

s life meaningless? The specific meaning and purpose behind incidents and/or events in our lives is often hidden from us, especially when they involve tragedy, suffering, sorrow, loss, and pain. Do these things have no meaning, or is the meaning hidden because as humans we are too limited to see it? People this side of the cross of Christ have a great advantage over Solomon. Because of Jesus' death, we know life has meaning and purpose, even in the worst kind of suffering. The cross reminds us that even when God is silent He is not still. He may be at work in ways hidden to human eyes! As suggested in Scripture and song, "God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform" (Romans 11:33; 1" verse God Moves in a Mysterious Way, by William Cowper, 1774). When life seems to be making no sense at all, tether yourself to this –"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). One of the clearest teachings in the Bible is that through Jesus Christ our lives have meaning, even when dark and difficult times hide that meaning from our view.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ