READ: Ecclesiastes 6-8
THINK: Would you rather laugh or cry? While the answer may seem obvious, consider this: It's often through difficult times of sorrow, grief or discipline that we learn the most, grow in character and develop greater love for God and others. It's better to endure difficult and painful emotions than to get caught up in meaningless pleasures that make us oblivious to our own spiritual failures and others' desperate needs. Consider how accepting correction may bring sadness at first, but that can lead to change and greater dependence on God. Life can be tough, but facing the challenges with God's help is better than running from them in a frivolous pursuit of "good times."
RESPOND: Why are some people who seem to have everything life has to offer still unhappy? Where does the ability to enjoy what we have ultimately come from? (See 6:2 note.) Why and how can trouble cloud our judgment, and what perspective should we have regarding our earthly lifetime? (See 6:3-6 note.) Who is the answer to the questions in 6:12? (See 6:10 note.) For whom is the day of death better than the day of birth? (See 7:1 note.) Why and how can sorrow be better than laughter (7:3)? (See 7:2-6 note.) In what ways do foolish people sometimes rely on music or laughter (7:5-6) while neglecting more important things? What should you keep in mind about God's purposes, regardless of whether the path seems rough or smooth (7:12-14)? (See 7:8-14 note.) What do you think it means that "the man who fears God will avoid all extremes" (7:18)? What's one of the greatest hindrances to gaining true wisdom? (See 7:23-28 note.) What does 8:2-6 indicate about the attitudes and actions we should display toward government leaders? (See 8:2 note.) Despite the injustices in the world, what hope does the author express (8:11-14)? (See 8:13 note.) How can trusting God provide peace, regardless of what happens? (See 8:17 note.)
PRAY: Pray for sound judgment and proper perspective during times of difficulty and trouble. Pray also for patience and contentment in all situations.
ACT: Finish something you started, but then put off because things got tough or inconvenient. Avoid any situation where sensual temptation may cause you to think or behave inappropriately or unwisely.
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