We’ve all watched children laughing and playing. It usually provokes thoughts such as, “They don’t have a care in the world,” or “I wish I had their innocence,” or “Wouldn’t it be great to be a child again.”
Ironically (if you can remember that far back) most of the children are thinking, “I can’t wait to be a grown-up!”
Everybody wants to be at a different stage in life. Rarely do any of us stop and enjoy the place God has put us at this very moment.
As adults, we all had moments in life where we couldn’t wait to grow up. At that point in our lives we recognized the amazing benefits of knowledge and experience. We couldn’t wait to have freedom and privileges. There were so many paths to pursue –relationships, careers, hobbies, adventures…
And then, at some point, in the middle of what we call “the real world,” we feel stuck. The exciting innocence of youth has disappeared and the sought-after opportunities of adulthood have lost their luster. Suddenly, the “real world” feels much heavier and burdensome than once thought and we find ourselves in agreement with Solomon, who said: “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
Ouch… probably not the kind of verse you put on graduation cards! But Solomon makes a great point: Every piece of wisdom, knowledge, and experience carries is bundled with both blessings and burdens. That means that every moment in life finds itself somewhere on the continuum between the “wide-eyed” excitement of youth and the somber reflection of adulthood.
But, as Christians, did we really expect anything different? We, who believe that the great joy of salvation required the great pain of crucifixion, should be the first to expect that every great blessing is accompanied by a great burden.
But we can’t just leave it there. After all, we understand that the burden of the cross was carried by Christ –not us. Therefore, the gospel doesn’t just teach us about the cost of joy; the good news of Christ also teaches us about the availability of joy! In fact, the New Testament actually commands us to have joy.
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But how does that reconcile with the “stuck” experience described by Solomon? Was Solomon missing something? Of course not. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon arrives at this very conclusion when he says, “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long s they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).
But how is that possible in difficult circumstances? Only through the burden-bearing ministry of Christ. He who has overcome death and the grave has the power to bear your burdens (Philippians 3:10). Only Christ can truly make “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
You see, the goal is not to avoid knowledge an experience. The goal is to enjoy Christ’s redemption of every moment of your life –so that, even as an adult, you may experience “kingdom life” through the exuberance of a little child (Matthew 19:14).