This week, I’ve been reading in the book of Ecclesiastes, and man, it’s really caused me to think deeply.
Honestly, this book is full to the brim of pessimism, nihilism, and straight-up melancholic hopelessness.
“I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
“So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”
It’s opened my eyes, though – and so much so.
Because truly, don’t we all feel this at times? The whole church sanctuary’s full of people singing, and “How great is our God!” And “…in His presence our problems disappear.” And “You heal my broken heart…”
And for some of us, at different times in our lives, that’s the last thing we want to hear. Sure, God might be good…but we don’t feel it. We don’t feel like raising our hands in praise, we don’t feel like singing about the beautiful life He’s given us, we don’t feel like any of it. The problems are still there.
Sometimes church is just a Jesus party, but not one based on the Jesus that cried, the compassionate one, the Jesus that died tortured and bleeding and suffering for us. We hear about the Jesus that scolded hypocrites, overturned the tables in the temple, the rebuking Jesus, the convicting Jesus – and we don’t need that kind of talk right now because there’s so much is going on inside of us that’s hard to speak of.
So, so hard.
And when we’re given the choice of picking a verse to relate to – either Psalm 16:9 – “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” – or Ecclesiastes 1:2 – “‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!'” – we can easily gravitate towards the second one.
Because there sincerely is pain in life. History repeats itself; nations rise and fall; sin permeates the universe to its edges; we live, we play, we work, we die. And it often just feels like that’s it.
It’s easy for us to become accustomed to thinking after the pattern of this verse:
“So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
Everything can feel meaningless, it can, and I get it. But we can’t stop there. When we stop in desperation without finding any glimmer of hope to grasp, that same hope that makes our faith what it is, we’re missing something incredibly important.
“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?”
Here’s where we begin to see the hope, something to cling to in the midst of our grief, our emptiness. Who can eat or enjoy anything apart from God, the Inventor and Provider of these things in the first place?
We find hope and security in Him, even when around us, the world is crumbling. Because it is crumbling.
As the rest of Ecclesiastes analyzes life, wisdom plainly stated and the human condition laid bare in front of us, it seems bleak.
We’re born, we work hard, life treats us unfairly, and we die. We lie in the grave after a mere breath of a life and cannot do a single thing about it.
However, without closing on a note of pessimism, we get a few more words of wisdom.
“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, ‘Life is not pleasant anymore.’ Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.”
The time will come for all of us when we’re weary and worn out, old and gray, and dwelling on the uncomfortable nature of life. But instead of giving up on trusting God, instead of succumbing to numbness and cynicism, instead of believing that there is no value in life at all, let us honor God.
Let us remember His goodness, His work in our lives, His love exemplified through Christ, His desire for us to truly know Him and have a relationship with Him. Let us remember the lover of our souls, the One who brings meaning to life itself and not fall into the trap of believing we’re on our own.
Because we’re not alone.
Friend, I’m right here with you as we agree that life isn’t easy, and that it often seems so meaningless, so vain, so senseless and futile.
But I promise you – there is more to life than the confusion, more to it than living out our days and wasting our lives.
Even in the pain, all is not lost. Forget not the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our individual lives, the hope and joy and peace we find through Christ alone.
Today, Friend, I pray this verse over you: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Remember Who we trust – and know that He is greater, much greater, than this world and anything we face.