When Things Are Not Right
DO YOU agree that things often have gone wrong for mankind? Though some of the calamities that people experience are their own fault, frequently unfortunate circumstances are beyond the control of their victims.
The Scriptures often comment on this situation. To illustrate: “I myself returned that I might see all the acts of oppression that are being done under the sun, and, look! the tears of those being oppressed, but they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power, so that they had no comforter.”—Eccl. 4:1.
Why does such a state of affairs exist? Under inspiration of God, a Bible writer known for wisdom laid bare a fundamental reason why things on earth so often run amok. He said: “This is what is calamitous in all that has been done under the sun, that, because there is one eventuality to all, the heart of the sons of men is also full of bad; and there is madness in their heart during their lifetime, and after it—to the dead ones!”—Eccl. 9:3.
The “eventuality” mentioned here is death, the result of inherited sin. (Rom. 5:12, 18; compare Psalm 51:5.) Since the heart of every human is “full of bad,” along with “madness” due to the rule of sin and death in all people, most individuals acquiesce to wrong desires and inclinations without self-restraint. (Rom. 7:14-25) The resultant difficulties affect not only those who are primarily responsible but also innumerable others, including persons who endeavor to live godly lives.
Another reason why things go wrong is that “time and unforeseen occurrence befall” everyone. (Eccl. 9:11) These may strike in the form of serious illness, political upheavals, economic reversals, natural disasters or other things that can change a person’s entire situation in life.
In view of the fact that so many things on earth are not right, what can you do to make life happy and meaningful? Let us consider this matter especially from the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes.
PATIENCE AND HUMILITY
A correct mental attitude is important for coping with things that go wrong. The wise Bible writer declared: “Better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning. Better is one who is patient than one who is haughty in spirit. Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.”—Eccl. 7:8, 9.
Those who are quick to take offense and who nurture grudges “in the bosom” give evidence of being haughty. Individuals who are preoccupied with what is going wrong in their lives do not gain happiness from the things that are going well. In the estimation of God, they are “stupid.” On the other hand, the humble person is patient. He restrains himself from becoming offended, cynical and bitter. He refuses to let adverse circumstances get the better of him. Persons who exercise such self-restraint often find that “the end afterward of a matter” brings an unexpected turn for the better.
SOME THINGS TO AVOID
In order to cope successfully with things that are not right you must heed Scriptural counsel about what not to do. Let us consider two important examples.
Likely you are acquainted with persons who spend much time trying to discover a rule or formula as to why things happen the way they do in this world. Some forms of divination (such as astrology) have become very popular because they purport to show that events on earth take place according to a predetermined pattern that can be discovered by humans.
But the Scriptures show that all such endeavors are simply a waste of time. We read: “Whenever I tried to become wise and learn what goes on in the world, I realized that you could stay awake night and day and never be able to understand what God is doing. However hard you try, you will never find out. Wise men may claim to know, but they don’t.”—Eccl. 8:16, 17, Today’s English Version.
The Bible writer refers to things that happen on earth as being “what God is doing,” but not in the sense that God causes these things. Rather, they are as if ‘acts of God’ in that they exist by God’s allowance and are largely due to causes beyond human control and ability to foresee. The Bible makes plain that all efforts to “find out,” or discern, some predictable general pattern of human events and behavior are doomed to failure.
Another wise precept is found at Ecclesiastes 1:15, which states: “That which is made crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot possibly be counted.” Due to inheriting sin, all mankind has been “made crooked.” As noted by the apostle Paul, “the creation was subjected to futility.” (Rom. 8:20) That is why no human efforts, regardless of how sincere they may be, can eradicate deep-seated hatreds and unite mankind in brotherhood. The crookedness and futility that bedarken earthly affairs exist by God’s permission and will be removed only by divine intervention.—See Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:18; 21:1-5.
BE CHEERFUL AND GENEROUS
While living amidst many unpleasant circumstances, you will find this wise observation especially beneficial.
“Look! The best thing that I myself have seen, which is pretty, is that one should eat and drink and see good for all his hard work with which he works hard under the sun for the number of the days of his life that the true God has given him, for that is his portion. Also every man to whom the true God has given riches and material possessions, he has even empowered him to eat from it and to carry off his portion and to rejoice in his hard work. This is the gift of God. For not often will he remember the days of his life, because the true God is preoccupying him with the rejoicing of his heart.”—Eccl. 5:18-20.
No matter how many your problems may be there are always some aspects of life that are going well. Do not permit adversities to sap your enjoyment of pleasant things. An individual who delights in everyday pleasures such as eating and drinking and who ‘looks at the bright side’ of things will find that the unpleasant circumstances of his life, many though they may be, seldom come to mind.—Compare Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 3:12, 13, 22; 8:15; 9:7-10; 11:8.
A further Scriptural principle that can make for much happiness, especially when things go wrong, is found at Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2, where we read: “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what calamity will occur on the earth.”
These words are a fine stimulus to generosity. Rather than limiting your giving to just a select few close friends, “give a portion to seven, or even to eight.” Give to a wide variety of people, especially those who are impoverished or otherwise needy. (Compare Luke 14:12-14.) Then if a “calamity” of some type befalls you, it will turn out as stated by Jesus Christ in these words: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.”—Luke 6:38.
Do you not agree that these Scriptural principles make sense? Why not take time right now to familiarize yourself with them more fully. Live by them. They will make your life a delightful experience, even when things are not right.