November 17 I Saturday
“Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.”
In the early 1960s, mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz was simulating weather patterns. While typing in a piece of data that had six decimal points, he decided to insert only the first three thinking the rest were relatively insignificant. The program began to plot a weather pattern that started out in a familiar way but eventually changed to something completely different. From this, Lorenz deduced that even a tiny atmospheric disturbance no greater than the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause massive weather changes on the other side of the world. This discovery became known as “the butterfly effect.”
The philosophical view “determinism” views reality from a similar perspective. Determinism states that the universe is governed by laws of cause and effect, which results in only one possible state at any point in time and we are living it. Every word, movement and action, no matter how significant, has a knock-on effect, one thing causing another since the beginning of time until this very moment. This view says life is on a fixed course; things could not have turned out any other way because everything is simply an effect of a previous cause. To borrow from the children’s song, the philosophy of determinism is “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”
We could write “Que sera, sera” across the book of Ecclesiastes. Much of the book is written from a materialistic and naturalistic perspective. Solomon describes life as it appears at the end of our noses—by what we can see, smell, taste, touch and hear. This is the default position of life under the sun, a perspective taken with physical and tangible things that leaves little or no room for the spiritual. From this perspective, Ecclesiastes observes a sense of helplessness and inevitability to the human experience. All is cause and effect. Whatever is going to happen will happen, and there is no escaping it. If this were true, no wonder Solomon concludes that life from this perspective is utterly meaningless, “a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
By the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon acknowledges that true meaning is found in remembering our Creator, fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13). These are specific choices we must make. Our actions are not locked into a butterfly effect, as if they are causally predetermined by all actions, however small, that came before. God created us with free will, and the most important choice we can make is choosing relationship with Him. This is where we find meaning and purpose to life and what enables us to face whatever will be.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for creating me with the ability to choose. Though life can sometimes seem out of control, I trust that You are able to handle whatever will be.