“So I said in my heart, ‘As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?’ Then I said in my heart, ‘This also is vanity'” (Ecclesiastes 2:15, NKJV).
This past summer I was in Nepal with two other Americans when I received a call that our flight to Bangladesh had been cancelled. Ultimately we were able to reschedule for one day later, but the change resulted in our losing a planned day of work and having to almost completely revise our plans for the next week.
Those changes always upset me to some degree because they involve loss of teaching opportunities and give the impression of unreliability. I guess I am somewhat of a “Type A personality,” who enjoys being organized and on top of every situation.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that life is not always like that. James taught, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14). Therefore, we must always submit to God’s sovereignty and purpose. Appointments and schedules are good, so long as we remember who is truly in control and make our plans subject to his supervision.
One appointment, however, is certain. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Flights, campaigns, vacations, even work is subject to delay, cancellation, or postponement; death and judgment, however, are inexorable. Those events will occur to all of us. Therefore, we must plan wisely to be prepared for them.
Solomon the King noted that in respect to death there was no difference between himself, the wisest of all men, and the fool. Both would die.
How then could he claim superiority to the fool? If both were destined to suffer the same fate, what good was all his knowledge and understanding? Were they not equals?
The answer is that true wisdom enables us to prepare properly for death and judgment. If our knowledge does not cause us to live righteously before God, it is not wisdom, but simply another kind of folly.
Only those who live in the knowledge of what is coming, and who watch and wait in faith for it, can claim to be wise.
This is Peter’s thought in 2 Peter 3:10-13. The earth and all that is in it will be destroyed. Since that is true he asks, “What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3:11).
Death is certain, and that certainty should convince us of the importance of the life we live while it remains within us. Otherwise, we are all simply foolish.