Sore Travail

Ecclesiastes 1:13  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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The sorrows that alike befall both righteous and wicked during the fleet years of life of our vanity, must ever be a mystery to the sight; only faith can find a reason and this only partially.
Solomon, like ourselves, sought much to find some satisfying portion in earthly things, but found it not. The sameness of all that ever happens; the weary labor that all creation shares in performing; the sorrows and unrest of all things burdened his spirit. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, to run the same race tomorrow; the wind wearily repeats its sounds: all the rivers run into the sea, and yet the sea is not full; the rivers return to their sources to run the same weary race again.
“The preacher” proved all things, and found nothing to rest in, nothing enduring, nothing but what is vanity.
He tried pleasure: it was all “vanity and vexation of spirit” (“pursuit of wind”).
He sought to find joy in wisdom, for he saw that wisdom excelled folly as far as light excelled darkness; but this too was vanity for death overtakes all.
What good was there in anything? all things had to have their season, and nothing long. And, worse than all, wickedness was in the place of judgment, and the oppressor in the place of power. The slothful and the miserly were alike vanity. And wisdom too, for it gained nothing for its owner but increased capacity to suffer.
And why all this? The answer is the only one that can throw light upon the mysteries of providence.
“This sore travail hath God given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.”
Sore indeed the travail is, and deep indeed the exercise of heart induced by it; but one learns from it to long for something better than the best things earth can furnish.
But this is as far as Solomon could go; he could close the door on earthly hopes; it needed the coming, death, and resurrection of a greater than he to open the door to the realm of abiding and satisfying joys.
Under the old dispensation man might find the vanity of the world, and, in faith, trust
God to solve all mysteries, but not till the New, was the door opened to heaven.
It needed the death of the only One who had a right to life; and His resurrection and ascension to that place on the Father’s throne, to give us real intelligence as to wiry the righteous suffer here. In the triumph and glory of the Captain of our salvation, we see the object and result to us of the sorrows we pass through here. They are to fit us for that glory unto which God is now bringing many sons, there to share the company of Him who overcame for us.
By suffering we are led more deeply into fellowship with Him, and thus capacitated the more fully to share His joy. Just as gold gets larger by being beaten, so we, as vessels, are hammered out that we may be able to hold a larger measure of joy when the reigning time comes.
And when the soul grasps this, it gives power to even “glory in tribulations,” and what a triumph of grace this is! But this is only as we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” When that glory has become the hope of the soul tribulations are accepted as being the natural, the proper path to that glory. Suffering is just as much a gift of grace as believing.
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Phil. 1:2929For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29).
Let the soul but grasp the purpose of God in saving us— fellowship with Him in the coming glory, and tears are seen to be the needed watering of that which the sunshine of His grace has caused to spring tip. And not one is lost; put, as David says, in God’s bottle, they are preserved to that day when each one seen in the sunbeams of God’s glory will sparkle as a brilliant jewel, formed in these days of trial, to be the everlasting reminders of that wonderful love that thus led us and bore us up through all our sorrows.
The Lord has said “ye shall be sorrowful but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” And it is and will be so. And he who in fellowship with the rejected Lord, has trod a path of tears, will find that he has laid up for him a larger treasure of jewels than he whose path was smooth and whose tears were fewer.
In trials the heart gets capacitated to enter into the Lord’s mind as to us and as to His things, and we may well conclude that the impressions thus made on the character are made for eternity. If glory will allow of regrets, one chief one will be that we had not more appreciated these precious seasons of suffering which now we judge so hard.