Ecclesiastes 7:  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.  In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. (ESV)
Solomon’s tone is almost turning sarcastic in nature. He is saying that life is going to be good at times and tough at times so just remain calm. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control most of it. Interestingly enough, life doesn’t fit into neat patterns of punishment and rewards.
It reminds me of a game I play with my son. When he tries to start a fight with me, I always tell him, “If you mess with fire; you will get burned.” Low and behold, he plays with fire and I burn him. We all believe this is some way. In fact, Eastern Mysticism teaches it in the form of Karma. Whatever you do, good or bad, you will get what you deserve.
This is what all religions believe, including some Christians. If you did something bad and received your punishment, you got what you deserved. If you were a bad boy and momma whooped you, you got what you deserved. If you worked hard and received a raise, you got what you deserved. If you do good then the universe will align itself correctly and give you what you deserve. If you are bad then Karma will cause deep distress upon your life.
Solomon is going to disagree with this thought and say, “I’ve seen wise great men perish and I’ve seen evil men prosper.” If getting what we deserve is true then there is something extremely broken in the cosmos. So why did 9/11 happen? Why do bad things happen to good people and young kids? Why did the Christian Egyptian woman get stripped down and beat in the streets by radical Islamist last week?
The Gospel counters this idea of getting what you deserve. Indeed you deserve death, but Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin so that we wouldn’t get what we deserve. (II Cor. 5:21) God has flipped the bill of getting what you and I deserve and has given us grace.
How can you use this in your life when dealing with other people?
“A seat in heaven shall one day be yours; but a chain in hell would have been yours if grace had not changed you.” – Charles H. Spurgeon