The Panting Sun – v. 1:5 (Very Short Studies in Ecclesiastes #12)

It has been more than a year since the pandemic began, and we are just now beginning to see the return of some degree of normalcy. The past year has proven that many of the constants that we take for granted can disappear in a moment’s notice, and institutions, rituals, and routines that we once participated in or observed on auto-pilot we are having to re-lean how to enjoy and appreciate.

Not every constant changed, however. Over the past 365 days, the sun has risen and set, marking one more day in what felt like the longest year of our lives. The sun’s trajectory across our sky, adjusted slightly with each of the seasons, cannot be stopped even when the rest of the world stops. As it rose in the morning, so it will set in the evening, only to rise in the same spot the next day. As it has been a couple times so far in this study, most English renditions don’t do Solomon’s poetic imagery justice here – the word we translate as “hastens”, שָׁאַף, actually means more like “gasp” or “pant”, or “gasping” and “panting” in participle form. Even as it causes us to pant in the summer, the sun itself is panting with us as it runs the race it has been given each day. 

While the sun’ march across the sky may seem to move at the pace of a snail given our impatience or pain in trials, each day comes and goes at the same speed as the ones before it and the ones that come after it. Much like all the other generations that have come and gone before us, the sun arises, but in the grand scheme of things, the dawn of each day is a flash, much like the rise of each generation. Although the “wheel in the sky keeps on turnin”, and it pants as it does (causing us to pant as well), in reality it’s slow march across the sky each day is as brief as the work we do under it. The day, the season, the year, the pandemic, and our lives are just as brief as the sun’s course – only the Lord above endures forever. Whether in pain or thankfulness, may we build our hopes and futures upon his unchanging grace.

If you have thoughts, let me hear them!

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