“I turned and saw under the sun that it is not to the speedy that the race goes, nor is it to the mighty that the war goes, nor is it to the wise that the bread goes, nor is it to the ones with understanding that the wealth goes, nor is it to the knowledgeable that grace goes. Time and circumstance happens to all of them. For a man also does not know his time like a fish that is seized in an evil net or like a bird held in a snare; as if they were snared, the sons of Adam are to an evil time as it falls on them suddenly.”
Life happens. It happens when we are prepared for it and it happens when we are not prepared for it. One of the great lies of the prosperity movement is that if you just have enough faith, God will provide all good things for you in an earthly sense. One of the lies that is believed in the broader, and orthodox church, is that if you behave yourself and abstain from wicked living, while you will have bumps in your life, it will be easier than the life of the unbeliever — we kind of develop the mindset that God owes us something. Yet, scripture tells us that it is through trials that we grow stronger in our faith (James 1:2-4) and so a life of comfort without trials to face is more of a curse than a blessing as we will not grow and mature in our faith.
So, Solomon continues his reflection about time and events — they happen to all of us, fast or slow, weak or strong, wise or foolish, knowledgeable and understanding or unknowing and inept. Life happens to all of us. It is at God’s discretion in the end.
That does not mean that we ought not strive for things — we are called to do all in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17), thus doing all things to our best and not sloppily so that our King is honored. And so, the tension remains. The race is run and we all push to be the fastest and the best. Yet, we know that God in his sovereignty sometimes ordains that the slower runner win — a twisted ankle or sprained knee on the final turn of the race causes the swifter runner to stumble — and so we honor and praise God while also recognizes that God brings down the proud and humbles them in the dust so that our eyes are pointed back to Him.
Evil times fall upon us suddenly. We can prepare for some things, but not for every eventuality. It is a reminder again that God is sovereign over our days. Nevertheless, we labor and prepare as best as we can for those events and struggle through them in grace to the glory of our King.