Point of view changes how people receive a message. In Ecclesiastes 7, Solomon described the folly of superficial living, saying that the day of death and sorrow are better than the day of birth and laughter. What?!? Reading a little deeper reveals what he meant: dwelling on the party and dreaming about the “good old days” ultimately leads to a meaningless life. For one thing, the “good old days” really weren’t any better (or worse) than the present. For another, the past cannot be changed. Solomon was searching for the meaning of life, which is not 42 (apologies to Douglas Adams). Living for the moment only leads to a desire for more moments rather than a desire for God. It’s like an addiction; we often seek out what FEELS good rather than what IS good.
Solomon observed that both prosperity and adversity are allowed by God, so it’s wise to learn from both, but not to dwell on either. “Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” (Eccl 7:17) Well, that’s depressing.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, wrote the same message, but with a different perspective. Solomon was observing the world from a place of despair in spite of worldly wealth, Paul wrote from a place of hope in spite of imprisonment. Solomon said to be happy in your work because that’s as good as life gets. Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord…and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). Solomon proposed spending time in sorrowful places in order to think deeply about the things of God; Paul advised, “Whatever is true…honorable… commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Solomon noted that we may as well take adversity along with prosperity because that’s just how the world is. God allows both, so just accept both. Paul said, ” I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…I have learned the secret…I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). The message is the same: a deep and meaningful relationship with God is possible. But what a difference the POV makes in the message!