Archive for August 4th, 2019

Have you ever tried really sour candies? You know, the kind that makes your tongue roll back in your mouth and your lips pucker and your eyes squint. After having such a rude sour experience, tasting something sweet seems even more sweet, more enjoyable.

In Italian the sweet life is translated, la dolce vita. In contrast the sour life is translated la vita acida. Those translations make sense as I say them, for acida sounds so … acidic.

Contrasts such as sour and sweet make me think of the book of Ecclesiastes.

Recently, while on vacation, I sought out the following verse from Ecclesiastes, as it’s meaning kept echoing throughout our time away:

“On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.”

Ecclesiastes 7:14 MSG

Our vacation was day, after day, after day of good days. We heard good speakers, ate delicious foods, saw beautiful sights, walked in the sun and on the sand, caught up on the lives of friends, rested, laughed frequently, planned, dreamed and simply loved each other. It was pure delight.

It is a place we visit annually … but every year is not equally good.

Some years there are things that hinder the good of the day(s). Maybe we were particularly tired, or preoccupied, or ill, or not one with each other in a multitude of ways. Those are the the bad days.

I much prefer the good to the bad days. They simply feel so … good.

One reason that they feel so good is that I also know what it is to have bad days. Those days when we just do not connect, when our joy is drowned out by the dark and twisties of real, human life. When the beauty and blessing around us is shadowed by the other, darker side of human existence.

I love the reminder that Solomon gives us that “on a good day, enjoy yourself.” There is nothing said about feeling guilty when good comes our way, no condemnation for a day of blessings … just the instruction to experience it, for what it is … good … sweet! When la dolce vita is your experience of the day (or season) take joy in it!

Just a chapter later, seems to be affirmation of enjoying the sweet life:

“a man hath no better thing under the sun,
than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry”
(Ecclesiastes 8:15)

The line that follows intrigues me in that it contrasts the sweet life, with a bit of acid, “on a bad day, examine your conscience.” In this translation, examine is often replaced with consider, but in the Hebrew the verb is raah (pronounced raw-aw) and it means to see. So another way to read this line might be “on a bad day, take a look at your life.”

When things are bad, it can be a season to reflect on where our priorities are and a chance to rely on the faithfulness of God, in bad times of the past. We often learn and grow during sour times.

I hear Job (2:10) asking “”shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”

There is a harmony that is given when we experience both the sweet and sour, the good and bad. The good gives us energy for the bad, the bad gives us joy in the good. Having the experience of both reminds us to not take the good days for granted, but to be thankful for the times when life is sweet.


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