S191P1 – Ecclesiastical truths: grief in learning

Ecc. 1:16-18

I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I have gotten me great wisdom above all that were before me in Jerusalem; yea, my heart hath had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.  And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.  For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

From a young age, she had dreamed of the fairy tale love.  She saw her friends coupling with boys at school and wanted to feel that kind of young and optimistic affection.  Eventually, she met a boy who seemed like a catch and began dating him.  By that time, she was not so young anymore, but she was still new to love.  In the beginning, everything seemed like roses.  He was on her mind all the time, and they spent hours talking about their lives.  The first time he disappointed her, she did not know how to handle it.  In all the years she had spent dreaming of love, she never once considered that it could hurt her.  In her mind, love should be only delightful, but that is not the case.  One cannot experience the joy of human love without also experiencing pain.

Very early in the Bible we are introduced to the grief and sorrow that can come from increased knowledge and wisdom.  Adam and Eve were warned that they would die if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  At that time, they had known only goodness.  Curiosity, disobedience, and deception would lead them to making the wrong decision.  In that choice they increased their knowledge.  What they came to learn, however, was what sin is.  That increase in knowledge would do nothing but bring death and pain to this world.  Had the garden remained a place of perfection without being tainted by sin, it would have remained.  I am confident we can all agree that humankind would have been better off not being acquainted with sin.  It is a knowledge that has not brought us gain.

This perspective of knowledge and wisdom is correct with respect to the fallen world in which we live.  As we learn more about what is going on around us and see our environment more clearly, we see more of the evil that pervades this system.  It is said that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  This sentiment contains a truth that the only way to experience the closest intimacy with another person in love is to make oneself vulnerable to the pain that ultimately will result.  In this world, the greatest things we can experience do not come without their sorrows and grief.  With God, however, we can live wonderful and rewarding lives nonetheless.  Father, help us to accept the realities of this fallen world without losing our peace, joy, and faith in You.