The despair of nothingness

The great sin of our life is giving up.  Despair with suicide is the decisive act of giving up, the ultimate sin against trust.  The final act of despair is suicide.  Without a belief in a forgiving caring God, life may seem more troublesome than the permanent sleep of death.  There are always people willing to help.  The worst answer to any problem is suicide.  You do not get any second chances after suicide.  The game is over.  You are dead.  Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary life problem.

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The distress of everybody (Ezek 7:25-7:27)

“When anguish comes,

They will seek peace.

But there shall be none.

Disaster comes

Upon disaster.

Rumor follows

Rumor.

They shall keep

Seeking a vision

From the prophet.

Instruction shall perish

From the priest.

Counsel shall fail

From the elders.

The king mourns.

The prince shall be

Wrapped in despair.

The hands

Of the people

Of the land

Shall tremble.

According to their way,

I will deal with them.

According to their own judgments

I will judge them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh concluded this oracle or vision to Ezekiel. In these times of trouble, they would seek peace, but there would be none. Disaster would come upon disaster. Rumor would follow rumor. They would keep looking for a vision from their prophets, but none would come. The priests would fail to instruct them. Counsel from the elders would fail. The king would mourn. The princes would be in despair. The hands of the land people would tremble. According to their ways, Yahweh would deal with them. According to their own judgments, Yahweh would judge them. They would know that Yahweh God was in charge. He was Yahweh.

The forgotten happiness (Lam 3:16-3:18)

Vav

“Yahweh has made

My teeth grind

On gravel.

He made me

Cower in ashes.

My soul is bereft

Of peace.

I have forgotten

What happiness is.

So I say.

‘Gone is my glory,

All that I had hoped for

From Yahweh.’”

This suffering person proclaims that Yahweh has made him grind his teeth on gravel, which is not a pretty thought. Yahweh made him cower or be afraid with ashes on him, as if in mourning. His soul had no peace. He had forgotten what happiness was. All the glory that he had hoped for from Yahweh was gone. He was almost in despair. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav in this acrostic poem.

Friendship (Sir 22:19-22:22)

“Whoever pricks an eye

Brings tears.

Whoever pricks the heart

Makes clear its feelings.

Whoever throws a stone at birds

Scares them away.

Whoever reviles a friend

Destroys a friendship.

Even if you have drawn your sword

Against a friend,

Do not despair.

There is a way back.

If you have opened your mouth

Against your friend,

Do not worry.

Reconciliation is possible.

But your friend will flee

If you have been reviling,

If you have been arrogant,

If you have disclosed his secrets,

If you have dealt a treacherous blow.”

Friendship is tricky. Certain things follow naturally. If you prick your eye you will get a tear in your eye. If you touch someone’s heart, you make your feelings known. If you throw stones at birds, they will scatter. If you revile a friend with abusive language, you will destroy that friendship. If you have drawn a sword or opened your mouth against a friend, don’t despair. There is still a chance for this friendship to be reconciled. However, your friend will leave you if you use abusive arrogant language, disclose their secrets, or try to kill them. These actions are show stoppers. The friendship will die. Your friend will go away and not come back.

The vanity of hard work (Eccl 2:18-2:23)

“I hated all my toil

In which I had toiled under the sun.

I must leave it to

Those who will come after me.

Who knows

Whether they will be a wise or foolish?

Yet they will be

Master of all for which I toiled.

I used my wisdom under the sun.

This also is vanity.

So I turned about.

I gave my heart up to despair

Concerning all the toil of

My labors under the sun.

Sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom,

Toiled with knowledge,

Toiled with skill,

Must leave all to be enjoyed by another

Who did not toil for it.

This also is vanity.

This is a great evil.

What do mortals get from all the toil?

What do mortals gat from the strain

With which they toil under the sun?

All their days are full of pain.

Their work is a vexation.

Even at night

Their minds do not rest.

This also is vanity.”

Now Qoheleth addressed the problem of hard work. What is its value? He had been a hard working wise man, but he would have to leave all his work to those who would come after him. There was no telling if they would be wise or foolish, but still they would be in charge of all his things. He then realized that with all his wisdom under the sun, everything that he had accomplished was in vain. He then fell into despair, much like Job. He would not enjoy the fruit of his hard work. He had worked with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he had to leave the results of his work to be enjoyed by those who would not work hard. This is the problem with parents who work hard to see their children succeed, only to have them dissipate their life away. This painful useless work is a great evil. He wanted to know if there was a reward for this hard work. This work was nothing but a painful troubling vexation that kept him from sleeping at night. Hard work was useless, in vain, vanity itself. This is a very strong indictment against hard work.

The wise ones and the fools both die (Eccl 2:14-2:17)

“Yet I perceived

That one fate befalls all of them.

Then I said to myself.

‘What happens to the fool

Will happen to me also.

Why then have I been so very wise?’

I said to myself

That this also is vanity.

There is no enduring remembrance

Of the wise

Or of the fools.

In the days to come,

All will have been long forgotten.

How can the wise die just like fools?

So I hated life,

Because what is done under the sun

Was grievous to me.

All is vanity.

All is a chasing after wind.”

Having accepted the importance of wisdom, Qoheleth then realizes that he, the wise one, and the fools also will both die. They share the same fate. What then is the advantage to being a wise person? No one remembers the fools, but everyone will also forget about the wise ones. Even this wise life is in vain. Why do they both share the same result as dead forgotten people? Now he begins to hate life itself, as an element of despair like Job. He thought that this was injurious to him, since all was futile. He and the wise ones were just chasing after that unattainable wind.

From the depths (Ps 130:1-130:2)

A song of ascent

“Out of the depths,

I cry to you!

Yahweh!

Yahweh!

Hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

To the voice of my supplications!”

Psalm 130 is another in this series of pilgrimage songs or psalms on the ascent to Jerusalem. However, this is more a penitential psalm that cries from the depths of despair. This psalmist cried out to Yahweh. He wanted Yahweh to listen. He wanted Yahweh to have his ears attentive to his prayers of supplication.