Summary: In some ways, when we are down, we are more teachable; down times can deepen us.

The Upside of Feeling Down

(Ecclesiastes 7:1-22)

1. At a party: 'Are you a psychologist?' 'Why do you ask it?' 'Oh yes, you are a psychologist.'

2. Most of us struggle with depression now and then. For many, time, prayer, and talking to friends helps.

3. But for some people, the depression is more complicated. And there is no shame in seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.

4. We tend to think of blue times as wasted times. They are certainly unpleasant times, but have you ever paused to wonder if there are times in your life when God wants you to feel melancholic?

5. God wants to bring joy to our lives through a relationship with Him, but God has many purposes for our lives and many ways in which we can glorify Him. He wants to deepen us, and that comes not so much from joy as it does facing the sober realities of life. Facing life’s realities opens us up to receive wisdom, and including wisdom in our lives means maturity.

The people I most admire are men and women who have great walks with the Lord, enjoy the good times of life, but have been deepened by soberly facing the entire spectrum of life’s happenings.

Main Idea: In some ways, when we are down, we are more teachable; down times can deepen us.

I. Relish and Cherish the Sobering Moments of Life; They Make You RECEPTIVE to Wisdom (1-6)

This section begins by talking about a good name, a good reputation. A play on words in Hebrew. A good (tov) name (shem) is better than ointment (mish shemen) that is good (tov). Some of this comes from depth gained through sad moods.

A. We must not evade the SOBERING times of life, but let them deepen us.

1. when we feel depressed, we are often adjusting to reality (stock market correction)

2. it is a normal part of life to be depressed; Jesus, a man of sorrows; He complained, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41)...

3. some struggle more with it than others (Dick A., never depressed till he had a stroke: "Now I am depressed.")

4. Jonah in whale (literally down in the mouth); needed that time; Elijah travelled 40 days to Mt.Sinai. You cannot orchestrate such times.

B. Pondering the BREVITY of life helps us live it more wisely.

• I listen to old time radio, love the music of the 20’s and 30’s — all the big names from back then are dead; their voices live on. Just like us.

• Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last

Psalm 39:4-5, ““O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

C. This is to be balanced with times of REJOICING.

Ecclesiastes 9:8, “Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.”

There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:4, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” We don’t try to create these times, they will happen in God’s plan. The secret is to appreciate what good you can find in the time you experience.

II. When You Are Down, You Learn to Trade in IDEALISM for Practical, Realistic Wisdom (7-18).

You trade in Pollyanna attitudes and idealism for realism.

A. You understand how EASY it is for humans to become CORRUPT (7)

1. The pressure of oppression can tempt you to become corrupt.

2. A bribe or the threat of financial loss can tempt you.

B. You begin to value PATIENCE over self-confident pride (8-9).

• One form of patience is being slow to anger (9).

• An idealist is in a hurry and expects cause and direct result. Realists recognize that progress is slow & tedious, and logical plans that should work often do not, and that some problems have no solutions and just have to be endured. Idealists cannot handle that.

C. You avoid the human propensity to REWRITE the past (10)


D. You strengthen your commitment to WISDOM (11-12, 19)

E. You accept that life is MIXED with good times and bad times (13-14).

F. You avoid EXCESSIVE righteousness and excessive wickedness (15-18)

• Difference between righteousness and this sort of “rightness.”

Matthew 23:24 might be a midrash on this verse: “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

• People who are into idealistic rightness are often the very people who do not control their wickedness. They may fight in public arena, & neglect their own families, for example. Or use slander/ half-truths in their zeal, inflating …

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