“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are going through storms and those who are about to.”

This wisdom came to me from a senior pastor I worked for and it has stuck with me.  He said it with a smile of recognition of its truth.  It was wisdom he’d learned in his own life and observed in the lives of others.  This recognition helped him lead well and encourage others through the difficulties because “life happens” to all of us.

It also applies to the principle of our passage today, Ecclesiastes 7:11–18 (NIV)

 11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. 12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it. 13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? 14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. 15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. 16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.

Ecclesiastes 7:11–18 (NIV)

 One of the hardest concepts for us to grasp—and in reality, we can’t—is the idea of God’s providence.  It is beyond our capacity to understand how the Lord knows what is going to happen not only because of His perspective on time but because He has ordained these events to occur.

Yet, gaining the perspective on this mind-blowing reality is great wisdom and like all wisdom, it does us good.  When a path is straight, wisdom says, “Be happy about it!”.  When a path is crooked, wisdom also says, “Be happy about it!”.

Isn’t this crazy talk!?!  Shouldn’t we want God to smooth out every rough place we walk?  Shouldn’t we wrestle against the Devil who constantly throws “those stumbling blocks” on the pathway to our destiny?  Maybe…maybe not.

But we are happy with our lives regardless because, as the expression goes, “that’s life”.  Or as Solomon wrote, “…God has made the one as well as the other.” (verse 14).  Both paths are the Lord’s and nothing happens outside of His rule and reign.  This is what His providence, or absolute sovereignty, means.

An expression credited to an anonymous circuit-riding preacher from the early 20th century captures the essence of this passage: “Learn to cooperate with the inevitable!” 

providenceSometimes, it’s going to rain…hard.  At times, the thunder will roll through our lives and frighten us.  And other times—probably more than we realize—the sun is shining in our lives and things are just as we’d like.  Either way, sometimes, it’s going to rain.

This is part of what it means to be human.  The Lord’s control of the “storms of life” is what it means to be sovereign.

Trusting the Lord through sunshine and rain is what makes us faithful.

So whether you are the person going through the storm or you’re about to, remember this: be happy in the truth that the Lord is in control over all of it.