“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time." Ecclesiastes1: 9-10
Commentators on Ecclesiastes remark that this early portion of the book deals with the “round of life.” Derek Kidner points out that life is like a long journey to nowhere in particular. We get up, go to work, come home, eat supper, watch TV, and go to bed. Tomorrow we get up and repeat the routine. This is the story of life “under the sun.”
Solomon’s observation happens to be correct. Perhaps 99 percent of life is ordinary. In the words of the crusty curmudgeon Andy Rooney, “For most of life, nothing wonderful happens.” He goes on to say, in one of his commentaries on daily living, that if you can’t find happiness in things like having a cup of coffee with your wife or sitting down to a meal with family and friends, then you’re probably not going to be very happy. If you sit around dreaming about winning the big contract or wondering when the Yankees are going to make you their starting pitcher, you’re going to spend most of your days waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.
Meanwhile the sun will rise tomorrow and you won’t see it. A friend will say hello and it won’t matter, your children will giggle but you won’t smile, the roses will bloom, white snow will cover the front yard, your husband will offer to rub your back, the choir will sing your favorite hymn-and because it’s ordinary or you’ve seen it before or heard it before or done it before, and because you’re dreaming of the future, you’ll miss it altogether.
Here’s an old story from the comic strip “Peanuts.” Lucy is down on her knees, looking intently at something on the ground when Charlie Brown comes along. She says, “I’ve been watching these bugs, Charlie Brown. You see, this one bug here is about to leave home. He’s been saying good-bye to all his friends. Suddenly, this little girl bug comes running up and tries to persuade him not to leave.” Charlie Brown looks up with an amazed and puzzled look on his face. Lucy concludes, “If you’re going to be a good bug-watcher, you have to have lots of imagination.
Lucy is right, of course. What you see is what you want to see. Some people look at life and see nothing but bugs. Other people see a love story.
It’s true that there is “nothing new under the sun.” But that doesn’t mean life isn’t worth living. The world is filled with rainbows for those who have eyes to see them.
Father, I pray for eyes to see the rainbows all around me. Amen.
Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.