What Was Old Is New Again

Photo courtesy People magazine

There’s nothing new under the sun.

No problem has seized you except that which is common to man.

“But today is different”, you say.  “We have the Internet.  People are more connected now than they ever have been.”

Rubbish.  People have new electronic means of disseminating information, but the underlying nature of what constitutes relationships hasn’t changed.  People have just traded real relationships for virtual ones, and have convinced themselves that these electronic exchanges are a suitable substitute for the Real McCoy.  They’re not.

“But today is different”, you say.  “So many people are unemployed.  Jobs are nowhere to be found.”

Rubbish.  Unemployment rates were even higher in the 1930’s during the Great Depression.  And back then, being “jobless” meant that you might not be able to eat today.  Or tomorrow.  Or the next day.  It meant that you may very well be homeless.  Nowadays, “jobless” means that you file for unemployment benefits, receive a check from the government every two weeks, sit at home on your computer with high-speed Internet access and look for work, eat three meals a day (funded by food stamps from Uncle Sam), and then sit back and watch your cable TV in the evening or play video games.

“But today is different”, you say.  “There’s so much crime in the world.  Politicians are so corrupt.  The rich are getting richer every day.”

Rubbish.  Selfishness and violence have been a part of the human condition since the original fall of man.

“But today is different”, you say.  “The kids today are so disrespectful.  And that MUSIC…”

Rubbish.  My grandparents said the same thing about the Beatles.

Before that, it was jazz.  *gasp*

What was old is new again.  The problem is, the historical context of most people starts with the day they were born, so it all seems like it’s the first time that man has dealt with these problems.

The author of Ecclesiastes understood that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  Read the book.  It’s only 12 chapters.  That’s nine pages in my NIV Bible.  You can read it in an hour.  It’s all right there – thousands of years old, yet as fresh and poignant as today’s newspaper.  What were the author’s thoughts about the purpose of life?  In chapter 5 he says:

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, NIV)

And at the end of it all, he says:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14, NIV)

Life isn’t as difficult as we make it.  It becomes difficult when we decide that we know better than God and strike off on our own.  I’m guilty of it, too.

Find enjoyment in your work.  Accept your lot and be content with what you’ve been given.  Fear God and keep his commands.

Seems simple enough.  So why don’t we do it more often?