Trusting in God's Unseen Hand

Trusting in God’s Unseeable Hand

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

“Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of god who makes all things.”

 

         Life would be much easier if we knew the outcome of our efforts.  However, for all our knowledge, planning, strategizing, and work, in the end, we do not know what will succeed or what will faith.  In a series of succinct statements, we are again reminded that we cannot predict the outcome of any endeavor, whether positive or negative. God’s providential and sovereign hand remains unseen to our human eyes, so we cannot fathom God’s purpose and what He will accomplish.  The outcomes we strive to perform are not always achieved.  However, this is not the work of blind chance or uncontrolled circumstances that thwart all our efforts. Instead, the outcome is determined by God, who makes all things.  Just as He is the one who forms a baby in the womb, determining the baby’s identity, character, and personality apart from any control of the woman (vs 5), so He governs our future and determines the number of days of our life (see Psalm 139:13-16).  Just as He develops a baby without any control or influence of the mother, He determines the purpose, direction, and outcome of life and activities apart from our control or knowledge.

How do we live in a world where the outcome of our work and activities are beyond our control, in which some activities will succeed while others will fail?  Solomon provides the answer: “Cast your bread upon the surface of the waters,  for you will find it after many days.”  In other words, we are to make and execute our plans for after many days, there may be positive returns.  However, even as we plan, we are also to diversify.  In the words of the modern financial proverb, “Do not put all your eggs in one basket,” or as Solomon advises, “Divide your portion to seven and even to eight.”  Because we do not know the outcome, we should not become fully vested in just one plan.  Instead, give yourself several options, for you do not always know which will work and which will fail.  Ultimately, “whether a tree falls towards the south or toward the north, whatever the tree falls, there it lies.”  In other words, whatever will be will be. However, the arbitrary nature of success should not lead to frustration and despair in which we fall prey to the attitude “What’s the use.”  Instead, we are to work diligently and perform our activities, for we do not know what will succeed and what God will bless (vs 6).  

While life may seem arbitrary, with our success and failure seemingly determined by events outside our control, there is a profound reassurance. We have a God who is in control and determines the outcome of all things.  He remains the unseen hand that guides the results. Sometimes, what we thought was a failure was the springboard to success.  Conversely, what we regard as a smashing success sometimes leads to a disaster.  However, even with our lack of knowledge, when we trust God, we can rest in the fact that with God there is no ultimate failure.  He remains behind the scenes, orchestrating circumstances and events to achieve the outcome that is best for us in light of eternity.  As Walter Kaiser points out in his commentary, Coping with Change, Ecclesiastes, “Thus Solomon has repeatedly coaxed, urged, argued, pressed, and begged us as wise men and women to get off the dead center of attempting to outguess God and His works.  We must earnestly and diligently get into life’s work.”  We can do so because we know that God is at work, and while we do not fully understand the spectrum of his plan, we can find peace in the mystery.  When we are living in obedience to Him, there is no failure in our life, even though the outcome may be far different than we had expected.  When life throws you a curve ball, swing the bat, for it may be the very pitch God is using to enable you to hit a home run.

         

 

 

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