The Futility of Trying to Change Your Circumstances

Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:16

Jerry A Collins



® How can Godís beautiful plan include injustice?

If God is in control why can my life be difficult?

How can a good God allow so much misery in His plan?

It seems to me that we can be in one of two states of mind when considering the circumstances we find ourselves in all throughout life. First we can be content in them knowing that God is in control and has a plan that includes them as we learned last week both good things and bad things, enjoyable things and difficult things or we can be controlled by our circumstances as we live to manipulate them, direct them and avoid them. Fear anxiety, frustration and energy used up this way. Where do you find yourself today? Are you more content or more controlled? Here is the challenge, If God has such a wonderful plan, with everything beautiful in itís time and He is in control of everything in my life, then why is there injustice, oppression, envy, greed and power grabs in my life and in the world? It motivates to want to take charge of my circumstances to protect myself. How does that all add up within the plan of God?


A. There is injustice in the world vs 16. Solomon himself observed that injustice was often evident in a place where we might least expect it-the place of judgment and righteousness, the courtroom. The kind of injustice that creates anger and frustration in our hearts. Are we suppose to accept this as from the hand of God?

B. There are four things injustice here teaches us 17-22.

(1) God will eventually balance the scales of justice vs 17. God may correct some of that here and now but He has appointed a time when it all will be justly judged. Every matter and every deed will be weighed justly when all the hidden motives of the heart will be examined even when that which is spoken in secret shall be shouted from the housetops (Matt 10:27). Injustice is limited in its scope.

(2) God uses injustice to reveal that our existence is frail and temporary 17-21. The illustration of the likeness of man and animals is to show that both of them are transitory, they both have an end here on earth and return to dust. In that sense there is a bestiality about us all. We behave like beasts and we die like them. So from a human standpoint we cannot detect any difference vs 21. Injustice is only a thing of this earth, on this side of the grave. And itís presence in this world teaches us that this life and ours is temporary. We learn to hold it loosely and become serious only about that which is serious.

(3) Since you cannot know Godís plan because you canít know the future, you can only find pleasure in the activities of your life vs 22. Of course God has since revealed more to us about His future plan for us than He had to Solomon. Godís use of injustice for His glory should not bring despair to us because it is part of His plan to reveal our frailty and keep things in perspective while promising that justice will be served. The New Testament has a lot to say about how we are to manage injustice. Consider Jesus teaching in Matt 5:38-42 or His own example or James 5:10-11 As an example brothers of suffering and patience take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lordís dealings..

(4) Evil oppression takes place on earth because of injustice 4:1-3. Notice the anguish and misery it causes in peopleís lives. The weeping, sorrow, brokenness which the oppressed feel they can do nothing about. Helplessness and hopelessness with no one to comfort them. Who can they turn to? Where can they go for deliverance? They feel that death is preferable to what they are going through even to the point Solomon says wishing they had never been born and seen this evil perpetuated would be better. Like Job who cried Let the day perish wherein I was born Job 3:3. The 20th century was one of the bloodiest centuries on record in human history. To earn a death sentence, it was enough to be an Armenian, a Jew, a non-khmer-rouge Cambodian, a Bosnian/Kosovar Muslim or of the tutsi tribe in Rwanda. On September 11 it was enough to be an American. In 1994 Rwanda, a country of just 8 million, experienced the numerical equivalent of more than two world trade center attacks every single day for 100 days. On an American scale that would mean 23 million people murdered, slaughtered, mutilated in 3 months. On Sept 12 the world became our friend. When the Tutsi cried out in 1994 by contrast every country in the world turned away. No one to listen, no one to comfort. The only alternative to enjoyment in lifeís activities is the despair caused in part by this unchecked oppression. So he tells us enjoy our activites. It is what it is and God is using it.


First, every kind of labor and skill can result in rivalry between us. Then we can either pass from the rat-race with its hectec scramble for status symbols vs 4 to even dropping-out with total indifference to it all and waste away vs 5. Both are useless and meaningless. It is better live contentedly with the simple needs of life beng met than attaching more value to your labor than should ever be given simply for the status it may bring you. SO WHAT!


Greed is never satisfied. Here there is no end to his toil, not content with his wealth (competing for more) and even deny selves the pleasures of life for more vs 7-8. Only projects and plans. Solomon commended sharing rather than hoarding as more beneficial for several reasons.

(1) A better profit from ones labor vs 9. (2) Help in time of difficulty vs 10. (3) Its warmer when two are together vs 11. (4) Protection in time of danger vs 12. It is more beneficial then to share ones toil and its fruits with another. Bike riding alone? Badminton alone? No


Verse 14 describes the poor lad of verse 13 rather than the old king. The second lad of vs 15 is same boy who replaced former old king. What is in view is a succession of kings none of whom fully satisfies the populance. Point is that even tho a person may rise from bottom of society, this youth had been in prison- a truly rags to riches story, to the top, not everyone will accept or appreciate him. So since impossible to achieve fiull acceptance it is foolish to spend oneís life seekign after it. It is better to stay poor and wise. We mite respond by saying that some acceptance by others better than none but this is an evaluation of only short-term advantage. Hrere is it ultimate long-term significance that matters.