“Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless.” — Ecclesiastes 1:2
Temporary. Fleeting. Vapor.
The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us that all the pain, all the sorrow, all the joy, and all the happiness we experience in this world is…meaningless. He tells us that all of our hard work is for nothing, that history repeats itself, and that there is nothing new under the sun. Both the poor and the rich have the same destiny: they die.
From dust my body came, and to dust my body will return.
If this all sounds morbid, its because it is.
In the original manuscript, the word used for “meaningless” is the Hebrew word, “hevel.” Some of the translations for hevel are: futile, emptiness, vanity, and breath. Solomon, the author, essentially states that this earthly life is nothing more than a breath. James similarly writes in James 4:14 that our life is “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Here today and gone tomorrow. If that doesn’t kill your pride, I don’t know what will.
But this realization of the brevity of life is meant to be anything but depressing. Solomon, the king of Israel at this time, writes in Ecclesiastes 2 that he had all the women he could ever want, all the possessions he could ever want, and all the money he could ever want. And yet, Solomon writes that it was all meaningless, like chasing the wind. Yet it seems as if every human on earth is chasing after the very things that Solomon says brought no fulfillment or meaning in his life. No amount of sex, money, or power could give him the meaningful life he desired. No matter what he did, it wasn’t enough. Even with all the possessions he had, his soul was left empty.
If nothing in this world will ever satisfy, the only logical conclusion is that we were made for something more than this world.
As Solomon progresses through the chapters of Ecclesiastes, he reaches a conclusion: In this life, we will face both joy and sadness. We will find ourselves on the mountain, and we will find ourselves in the valley. We will witness the effects of both wisdom and foolishness. These are the byproducts of this fallen world. So amidst all seasons, fear God and keep His commandments. Enjoy the life you have been blessed with. Find satisfaction in He who satisfies. He will bring meaning to the seemingly meaningless.
In John 10:10, Jesus boldly declares that He came to give life, and life to the fullest. His death and resurrection brought the ability to live a life of freedom and satisfaction.
Because of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to the meaningless.
Fear God and keep His commandments. The greatest of which are love God and love others as you love yourself.
Just as Solomon, we no longer have to be slaves to this meaningless life. We can have true joy and true satisfaction. We can live with purpose and passion in a world that is rapidly losing both purpose and passion.
So let’s stop walking aimlessly through this life, chasing temporary pleasures and treasures. Let’s seek God in a world that is desperately trying to kill God. Let’s be dreamers. Let’s be doers. Let’s change the world.
I can die any day. I don’t want my last day to have been spent waking up late, playing Fortnite, and binge-watching Netflix. I want my last day to have been lived with meaning. Billions have come before me. And it is quite possible that billions will come after me. But they aren’t me. They don’t know the people I know, they don’t have the stories I have, they won’t do the things I will do, and they don’t have the dreams I dream. And the same is true for all of us.
If Jesus can take a ragtag group of sinners and losers and use them to change the world, He can do the same for you and me. Our time on earth is short; stop looking for meaning in what we know will leave us empty. Wake up and live in this world that is spiritually asleep. Be intentional.
So call up that old friend. Hug your mom. Put away the PlayStation. Pick up a good book. Go for a run. Watch the sunset. Pray more. Laugh with those who laugh, and mourn with those who mourn.
In world that seems to always be rushing, take the time to enjoy what really matters. Just as Psalm 39:6 says, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.”
Live a life worth living.
Our time is our most valuable resource, but it is also our most wasted resource. Don’t waste it. Live with purpose. There is still time left.
“If I had only…
Forgotten future greatness
and looked at the green things and the buildings
and reached out to those around me
and smelled the air
and ignored the forms and the self-styled obligations
and heard the rain on the roof
and put my arms around my wife
…and its not too late.”
— Hugh Prather
In a world where all die but few ever really live, be someone who does both.