God Is Always Doing a New Thing

new thing“There is nothing new under the sun.” It’s such a depressing line from Ecclesiastes, and it reads as depressingly true right now.

Futility of Life

I’ve been reading through Ecclesiastes, this ancient book from the Jewish tradition of “wisdom” literature. It describes the futility of life—how we chase after success and wealth and even wisdom and it doesn’t satisfy. How there’s every reason to think that we return to the dirt when we die. How lives are fleeting and often hard. How the wicked seem to prosper at every turn. And how the cycles of violence and selfishness and futility seem to repeat themselves.

There is nothing new.

But I also read a commentator say that when the book of Ecclesiastes describes life “under the sun,” that’s a way of describing life outside of God’s rule. Without God’s presence, life is hard and pointless and repetitive and depressing and unjust.

A New Thing

I thought about some other passages in the Bible that seem to say something else. Isaiah writes:

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Jeremiah writes of a new covenant. Lamentations proclaims that God’s mercies are new every morning. Ezekiel promises a new heart and a new spirit.

And then Paul reminds us that God has done a brand new thing in raising Jesus from the dead. Even more, we are invited to become part of this new creation. The old has gone! The new has come!

It’s so easy to relate to the author of Ecclesiastes. War. Political backstabbing. A news cycle of injustice and despair. Greed. Succumbing to pleasure instead of purpose. Wondering if there is any meaning.

I’ve been encouraged by this reminder. We are invited to take a clear look at life “under the sun” in all its futility. And we are invited to look for the signs that there is so much more than life under the sun, that God is always doing a new thing.

📷: summer 2020

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