You will get it back

It is a call to unpromising work to sow the seed upon the waters looks hopeless; little good seems likely to come of such toil and sacrifice. So work for the world’s good sometimes seems sadly unpromising; the giving of money, time, influence, feeling, seem only like ploughing the sands, throwing treasure into the sea. But we must hope in hopeless work, or what to the carnal eye looks like hopeless work. The most unpromising ground sometimes yields the richest results. The finest grapes in the world are not grown on fat soil, but on sand deserts and barren shingle that would not afford nourishment to a patch of oats; and the lover of man not rarely gets his richest clusters on the most unpromising ground. It has often been so with the missionary. Who, looking at ancient Britain, would have thought that it would become the vineyard of the Lord? It is often thus in families–the careless, undutiful children turning out the parents’ strength and joy. (W. L. Watkinson.)

 

If Ecclesiastes is promoting charity, it is asserting there will be an eventual payoff for the act. This thought has echoes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:38). A modern illustration might be the classic 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life whereby George Bailey’s (played by Jimmy Stewart [1908-1997]) years of service to the town of Bedford Falls are rewarded when its residents pay off his debts.

A less famous example comes from the May 8, 1960, episode of the anthology drama The Loretta Young Show (1953-1961) titled “Faith, Hope and Mr. Flaherty”. In this installment, Loretta Young (1913-2000) portrays Sister Ann, a nun and worker at Mercy Hospital. Beginning with only 25¢, Sister Ann continually reinvests money given her. Eventually, Mr. Flaherty (played by J.M. Kerrigan [1884-1964]), an Irish curmudgeon and hospital patient, gives the nun five dollars for the hospital building fund. Sister Ann proceeds to “invest” the sum. This development continues and by the time that the program concludes, Sister Ann parlays the initial contribution into $20,000, and in the process blesses a lot of people as Mr. Flaherty merits a plaque for his generosity; Mrs. Spencer (Virginia Christine [1920-1996]) is able to adopt a baby; a man is saved from making a drastic marriage mistake; and another is able to pay his rent. The quarter’s continual returns through supernatural means fits the charitable interpretation of casting bread upon the waters (Ecclesiastes 11:1). – Chandler Vinson

If I had to pick a similar verse in the New Testament, I would choose Luke 6:38.

I think the act of giving is an act of faith. You meet a need today and in love, a response from the Holy Spirit to reach out and touch someone else, a gift is made.  You hope for two things – you hope that the gift will make a difference, but you know it will because you placed the gift in God’s hands – and secondly, you know that by giving and sharing of yourself, you have made room in your life for God to pour into you.  It is a spiritual law, not one I understand, but in giving you receive.  When giving to God, He meets your needs in your life abundantly.  It is a law that has been tried to be manipulated and used to bribe and coerce, but at the end of the day, it is a law that God created to bless the pure in heart as they give from that heart to meet a need that God called them to meet with whatever resources they might have.

Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back.– Ecclesiastes 11:1

 

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Wait expectantly

Wherever the believer is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer. God calls us by his Spirit, by his word, by his worship, and by special providences, merciful and afflicting. When we are foolishly making court to lying vanities, God is, in love to us, calling us to seek our own mercies in him. The call is general, Seek ye my face; but we must apply it to ourselves, I will seek it. The word does us no good, when we do not ourselves accept the exhortation: a gracious heart readily answers to the call of a gracious God, being made willing in the day of his power. The psalmist requests the favour of the Lord; the continuance of his presence with him; the benefit of Divine guidance, and the benefit of Divine protection. God’s time to help those that trust in him, is, when all other helpers fail. He is a surer and better Friend than earthly parents are, or can be. What was the belief which supported the psalmist? That he should see the goodness of the Lord. There is nothing like the believing hope of eternal life, the foresights of that glory, and foretastes of those pleasures, to keep us from fainting under all calamities. In the mean time he should be strengthened to bear up under his burdens. Let us look unto the suffering Saviour, and pray in faith, not to be delivered into the hands of our enemies. Let us encourage each other to wait on the Lord, with patient expectation, and fervent prayer. – Matthew Henry

The word most often translated “wait” in the sense of waiting on the Lord is the Hebrew qavah. Qavah means (1) “to bind together” (perhaps by twisting strands as in making a rope), (2) “look patiently,” (3) “tarry or wait,” and (4) “hope, expect, look eagerly.”

The second most frequently used word translated “wait” is yachal. Yachalmeans “to wait,” or “hope, wait expectantly,” and is so translated in our English Bibles. The KJV sometimes translates yachal as “trust” as in Isaiah 51:5, but the NASB has “wait expectantly” and the NIV “wait in hope.”

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope – Psalm 130:5

The act of waiting is an act of trust.  The real art to waiting becomes the ability to stop trusting in anyone or anything and rest in Him alone.

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him. – Psalm 62:5

If we do not separate ourselves from the things that separate ourselves from God, He sometimes will help us do that.  He does not like to share His glory with something else.

What if my mind is telling me that my hope is only a vain hope – what if I absolutely do not see or feel any possibility at all in my present situation that would expect a special expectation. My spirit responds – it is God getting involved who is the possibility for me to expect great things.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

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Finding hope

David left Gath and was so alone that he despairs. And now David feels abandoned as moves to a new location that is very foreign to him. David wrote Psalm 13—how to overcome the feelings of despair, abandonment and loneliness when we are in a very dark situation that seems hopeless.

The psalmist complains that God had long withdrawn. He earnestly prays for comfort. He assures himself of an answer of peace. – God sometimes hides his face, and leaves his own children in the dark concerning their interest in him: and this they lay to heart more than any outward trouble whatever. But anxious cares are heavy burdens with which believers often load themselves more than they need. The bread of sorrows is sometimes the saint’s daily bread; our Master himself was a man of sorrows. It is a common temptation, when trouble lasts long, to think that it will last always. Those who have long been without joy, begin to be without hope. We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints but what drive us to our knees. Nothing is more killing to a soul than the want of God’s favour; nothing more reviving than the return of it. The sudden, delightful changes in the book of Psalms, are often very remarkable. We pass from depth of despondency to the height of religious confidence and joy. – Matthew Henry

But now prayer lifteth up her voice, like the watchman who proclaims the daybreak. Now will the tide turn, and the weeper shall dry his eyes. The mercy-seat is the life of hope and the death of despair. The gloomy thought of God’s having forsaken him is still upon the Psalmist’s soul, and he therefore cries, “Consider and hear me.” He remembers at once the root of his woe, and cries aloud that it may be removed. The final absence of God is Tophet’s fire, and his temporary absence brings his people into the very suburbs of hell. God is here entreated to see and hear, that so he may be doubly moved to pity. What should we do if we had no God to turn to in the hour of wretchedness? – Treasury of David

David found hope in his dark hour because troubles and temptations always pushed him toward the Lord. Even when he felt all alone, he discovered that his God was still there sustaining him through the storms.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,  and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. – Psalm 13

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