(Today’s post by Joshua Jones)
It seems like every time that I read from Ecclesiastes, I get a different takeaway. As we read in Hebrews 4:12, “The Word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, between joint and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Even knowing this, I am always surprised by how many lessons we can pull from Scripture, and how clearly God speaks through His word when we seek him.
Ecclesiastes is a pretty interesting book, to say the least. The author is never mentioned by name in the book, but based on what is mentioned, most scholars and theologians agree that the author is none other than King Solomon, the wise son of David. In 1 Kings 3, we see the account of Solomon asking the Lord for a discerning heart, and it given to him. Solomon is known as the “Wise King”, because of this blessing of wisdom imparted on him by God. With all the wisdom of Solomon, it is surprising when he writes in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes that “All life is meaningless.” Wait. All the wisdom in the world, and that is what you have to say Solomon? “All life is meaningless?” Thanks for that tidbit of woe.
Now, call me crazy, but I think Solomon is right. Have you ever got your hopes up for something that didn’t happen? Have you ever seen injustice- someone getting what they don’t deserve, and others who deserve to be punished go rewarded? What about those unanswered questions you have? It’s all meaningless. Let me explain myself here. I am not trying to discredit your hurts, your questions, or that prayer you have been praying at all. Neither is Solomon. What I believe the author is intending to communicate here is that life is meaningless without a relationship with the Creator of Life. We were created to glorify our Creator. If we are not doing that, then we are not fulfilling our purpose. Without purpose, there is no meaning. Look around you- is there anything on your desk that absolutely has no purpose? Even if it is not the original purpose, each object around you serves to do something, or it wouldn’t be. What the author is trying to communicate in this book is how a life lived outside of a relationship with God is all for nothing. No matter the money that we have, the good choices we have made, if we lack that relationship, then it is all pointless.
In chapter 10, we see Solomon finishing up talking about the actions of fools, and then he switches gears: he talks about the adventure of life. Here he uses two activities to illustrate his point; the merchant sending out ships and the farmer sowing his seed. In both of these activities, a great amount of faith is required because the circumstances are outside of his control. For the merchant, once his ships are out to sea, they could get swept up in a storm, get thrown off course, or pirated. The merchant has no control over this, but has to have faith that the ships will get where they are going. For the farmer, the seeds he sowed could get blown away, storms could ravage his crop, or the seeds could just not grow. This as well takes faith to wait patiently for the outcome. Now say, if the merchant waited until the perfect time where there were no storms, every course was charted perfectly, and the crew were all trained to perfection for any situation, and if the farmer waited for the perfect time to sow his seeds, in an unblemished field, away from any risk of storm, nothing would ever get done! Here, Solomon is telling the reader that life is meant to be enjoyed, but the enjoyable moments come with a risk. That is where faith comes in.
Life is an adventure of faith. Each of us is like the merchant or the farmer, investing today and waiting for the dividends tomorrow. If we never took the steps in fear of what might happen, we wouldn’t get anywhere.
God wants us to enjoy him. That doesn’t mean that we will have all the money we can “claim”, or that disappointment would not come. If we base our lives on the things around us, on the people around us, or about the injustices done against us, our life is meaningless. But if we have faith in God, and seek to honor him with our lives, our lives are meaningFUL. That is what matters, that our lives point to the Creator. Everything else is meaningless. So tell me, are you willing to make the decision to make your life about the One who gives meaning?