Dung happens-the Bible tells me so
I’m not sure if it’s theologically kosher to pick a favorite book of the Bible, but if I could pick a favorite book , the answer would be Ecclesiastes. For me Ecclesiastes is like food for the soul. I love reading the Psalms and I love reading Proverbs, but there is something about the book of Ecclesiastes that grabs me every time I read it. I would even suggest that if one only reads the Book of Proverbs, (which was written during the years of Solomon’s reign) and skips over Ecclesiastes ( which was written towards the end of his life); it is like watching Megan Fallows play an adolescent in Anne of Green Gables without watching her grow to maturity in Anne of Avonlea.
Without going into an exposition of the entire book, I would like to point out a passage in Ecclesiastes that I think is probably the most unique passage in the entire Bible. The passage is found in Ecclesiastes 9:11, “I returned and saw under the sun that-The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to all.”
Not only is this the most unique verse in all the Bible, I think it is the most unique verse in all of religion. Every religion that I can think of teaches a strict reciprocity principle. You get what you deserve and that’s the end of the story. Buddhism and Hinduism teach karma, Islam teaches that everything that happens is directly willed by Allah (and Allah gives people what they deserve). The strict reciprocity principle even makes its way into human cultures.The idea that one’s lot in life is directly proportional to the choices one makes is an idea nearly enshrined in American culture. As far as I know, the Bible is the only religious book that allows for time and chance.
I’m glad this is in the Bible. If it weren’t, I think we could all rightly question whether the Bible is truly the Word of God, because if a book is going to make the claim to be inspired by God, shouldn’t it at least portray reality as it is? While most of us prefer to believe that we are in control of our lives, the reality is-dung happens.
Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes the righteous suffer the majority of their lives through little fault of their own. Other times the wicked prosper despite their evil deeds. Sometimes talentless people strike record deals. Other times world class singers like Eva Cassidy spend their lives in virtual anonymity and die of skin cancer in their early thirties. One just happened to be at the right place at the right time and the other just couldn’t catch a break.
Knowing this helps to put things in perspective. Things don’t always turn out like they should. That’s just life. I think Solomon understood that it is better to adjust to the nuance of reality than to live in a fantasy world of predictability. I don’t have a degree in Psychology, but I have a feeling that adjusting to reality makes good mental sense. So the next time I see the world famous bumper sticker with a slightly different word for dung, I’ll think to myself, just one more reason to believe the Bible.