one thing I’m learning about the way Solomon thinks and presents his outlook on life, is that he leans more pessimistic (or possibly realist). This has been a challenge for me, because I am an optimist by nature. When I make an argument, I find it more natural to outline all of the positive points first, and then speak to the critical objections. Solomon does the opposite, and I’m finding it very effective. What Solomon does, is he’ll lay out a thesis statement, and then state all the problems with it first, but by the end, he’ll convince you that what he originally said is the only viable way forward, through all the trouble that may be. This isn’t a bad way to think. If you’re an optimist, and you think life is going to be all rosy, when you slam into the reality of life, you may be likely to give up. But if you’re a pessimist, or at least a realist, and you’ve gone into an endeavour with a realistic understand of all that can go wrong, then when you hit a wall, you’d more likely perhaps to be more like, “yep, I knew I’d hit you sometime.”
So let’s make a ledger this morning, a pros and cons list, and debate Solomon’s proposal: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” - Now you might paraphrase this to suit your own needs: “Why should I work hard?”, “Why get myself out of bed this morning?”
Do you have a friend, a co-worker, maybe a spouse or a family member who is a bit of a train wreck? They make bad decisions that lead to worse decisions. They are always in a crisis, they call you up again at 3AM to pick them up from somewhere they shouldn’t be. You know who I am talking about? If you don’t, it might be you :).
It’s exhausting being a friend or a family member of a train wreck. The closer your relationship, the more exhausting it is. Because the truth is that we’re not created to observe human relationships like train wrecks, detached and uninvolved. We’re tied to these people that God has placed in our lives. We don’t just watch them crash, at times we feel that we’re crashing with them - that perhaps “train wreck” is not that adequate a picture, its more like a shipwreck and we are in the boat with them, and if they go down, we go down together.
In Acts 27, the apostle Paul actually has this experience of being tied to the ill-fated decisions of those he is travelling to Rome with. They literally ship wreck. And the big theme of this chapter is that God has providentially placed Paul on this ship with these men - 276 of them - to warn them of their danger and to proclaim the hope that he has in god to them. They do in fact go through the crash together, but through it all, they also reach the other side together. As we work through this chapter, we see precisely why Paul is on this boat, and may it encourage you as you at time question, when your friend or family member is crashing again, why am I here? What am I to do?