Life lasts a long time. Life is also vain. Life is just a long stretch of vain stuff.
Vain, in this context, means worthless, empty, good for nothing.
Few people find this encouraging news. I find it to be awesome.
What better way to eliminate self-conscious fear and worry?
Patience is supposed to be one of those things that marks the believer.
It is clichéd to say, “Don’t ask God for patience, because He’ll nail you with problems.”
That always sounded silly to me. Life has problems whether you ask for patience or not!
Tribulation works patience. That’s kind of how it happens.
“Tribulation” is basically life not going how you wanted it to.
Life is vain. When life doesn’t go how you wanted it to, you get taught about the vanity of life.
My dad died. That was a bummer for me. My dad was a good man. When he died I was angry. I told God I thought it was stupid that so many jerks were still alive and yet my dad was dead.
It was tribulation. It showed me that life is vain. I have grown in faith and in patience since then.
Steve Taylor, a Christian musician who wrote quirky songs that bothered a lot of Christians and who obviously I found to be enjoyable because of that (!), had a song lyric that said, “Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better.”
Once you give up on your plans for life, once you resign yourself to life in the Spirit where you don’t know where you came from or where you are going, you feel better. Patience begins to happen.
Instead of temporal hope in our plans (I hope my kids turn out right, I hope my money lasts, I hope my church grows, etc.), we begin to set our affections on things above. We put our treasure in heaven. We let go of temporal hope and replace it with eternal hope.
Struggle with patience? Suffer more. Learn to give up on your ideas and plans, they’re probably dumb anyway. Embrace the vanity of life and live for eternity instead.
Patience grows out of that.
If Ecclesiastes isn’t one of your favorite books in the Bible, I daresay you are missing the point.