Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. Ecclesiastes 4:1-2
Mental pressure and distress from an unfulfilling job is arguably one of the worst forms of oppression. In this situation, the oppressed is also oppressor. Given the survival instinct inherent in all human beings, a shutting down of the flight-or-fight response is inhumane. It is a shutting down of the essence of being—life. A suppression of the divinely ordained intention when you were formed.
Considering Solomon’s station in life—the richest and wisest man ever to live—it’s remarkable that he took the time to observe those who didn’t have it so good. The king recognized the imbalance prevalent in the plight of the oppressed. But even in all his wisdom, Solomon seems at a loss to prescribe a satisfactory cure. Honestly, this is a refreshing change to the advice offered by well-wishers, by those who have not pondered nor lived through a prolonged control of the heart and mind. So, in the great king’s despondency, he concedes that life is sometimes not worth living.
If you’re reading this, like me, you have most likely conceded the same thing. Solomon doesn’t speculate into the future, into what might happen, what lessons God may teach, what grand jobs may be on the horizon, etc., but he deals with the present moment. And to the oppressed, who are their own oppressors, the present moment contains the despair which overshadows the rest of life. The uncertainty. The meaninglessness. The pain of it all.
Deep in the darkness of the pit, it is hard to see or even imagine the outside.
Unlike the wisdom of the ages or human wisdom, Solomon’s wisdom was a direct gift from God. The great king didn’t pretend to know a counter to meaninglessness and oppression but he knew exactly what would alleviate the suffering. Companionship and comfort. Someone to revive—encourage, energize, rekindle, console, rally, and cheer—the sufferer’s spirit. We can find this comfort in others, especially those of a like mind.
Or in someone who truly understands the situation. A man of sorrows, himself.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
People came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, yet we have someone greater than Solomon with us. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5), the great Comforter, the hope of glory, the Spirit of Christ within us.
Times may be difficult, even to the preference of death. Instead of focusing on the situation, try fixing your eyes on the limitless comfort of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, in the midst of hating my life, I often forget to think about Your great comfort. Forgive me for this. Holy Spirit, keep me ever mindful that through Christ, I share abundantly in comfort. Abundantly. More than I will ever need. Write the words of Hebrews 12 within my mind and heart. And please Jesus, lift me out of the pit. Give me the comfort of doing what I was born to do. In Your Holy Name, Amen.