Celebrating Nothing New
Lately I find myself quoting the phrase “There is nothing new under the sun” a lot. I quote it to myself mostly. I have the kind of temperament that has a tendency to get overwhelmed easily. Some days my own life overwhelms me. Other days it’s the state of the world. Either way, I can fairly easily head down a path of doom and gloom. And for some reason I find it comforting to realize that these struggles are not new ones. There have always been wars, ugly political conflicts, and crime. And on a personal scale, there has always been disease, fatigue, and loneliness. And so although it might feel to me like the world is falling apart, on a global or personal level, it is really “nothing new”.
On Tuesday of Holy Week, it kind of seems like Jesus had some down time with the disciples. They had a chance to ask him some questions, which led to Jesus teaching them about some signs of the end times. These included wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilence. (By the way, I had to look up the word “pestilence” – it means “a deadly and overwhelming disease that affects an entire community.” I always thought it had something to do with bugs . . . )
Anyway, I’m pretty sure those weren’t the kinds of signs the disciples were looking for. They were probably imagining a future of political conquest, fame, and vindication. I wonder if a few of them weren’t starting to wonder if they had made a questionable choice in following this Jesus . . .
It’s interesting that almost every generation has been able to point to certain events and create a case, crazy as it might be, for arguing that Jesus’ return was imminent. Every generation has known war, famine, earthquakes, etc. There really is nothing new under the sun. The question I’m pondering is why might that be a reason to celebrate?
Maybe it’s because the frustration of “nothing new under the sun”, that gnawing feeling of “how can the world just keep turning this way?” point us toward the fact that we were created for something more. Much more. Somewhere deep inside, we know that this is not how it was supposed to be. The same author who said there was nothing new under the sun (King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes) also said that God has put eternity in our hearts. Some day there will be something new . . . .
We are promised a better future. One without all the wars, and famine, and ugliness. He will one day make everything right and will wipe away every tear , cure every disease, and right every wrong.
And in the meantime, “nothing new under the sun” also means that the good things keep happening too – like babies being born, and futures being planned, and wrongs being righted one small step at a time. It’s all a matter of what you choose to focus on --