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November 24, 1990

Live Joyfully, but Don’t Forget the Times of Trial

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However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. ECCLESIASTES 11:8
One of the most unusual aspects about Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s constant admonition to live in joy while not forgetting parts of life that are less pleasant. He does that again in these verses. “Enjoy all the years you have left,” he says, “but not without stopping every now and then to remember the hard times you’ve been through in your life.”
Ecclesiastes is a present-tense book. Solomon constantly asks us to enjoy the current season of life we’re in and the current job we have because, as he points out again and again, we just don’t know what tomorrow may hold. In saying that, Solomon does not ignore the future, nor does he discount the past. He simply makes it clear that our goal in life is to enjoy the present. What’s done is done. What’s to come will come soon enough, and it may be more pleasant or less pleasant than what we’re currently experiencing. But in either case, the focus of our time is now.
That in no way means that we should forget the past—if we did that, we’d miss out on valuable lessons we learned during difficult times. Nor does it mean that we should not have an eye toward the future. Solomon frequently says that what we do today will be looked at by God in the future. Therefore, we have to make sure that our current activity aligns with His plan and His thinking.
The New Testament states that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow because it has enough troubles of its own (Matthew 6:34). In other words, we don’t need to live in the future or in the past.
Have you been living in the past? Then begin to live in the present and learn to enjoy life today.

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