There are many people who simply don’t have time to think about things like the meaning of life. They are too busy with everyday responsibilities and just trying to stay afloat. There are other people who hold the secular idea that there is no ultimate meaning, that we create our own meaning and purpose. For many people, achieving success and having the freedom to live the life we choose is the ultimate goal.
It’s certainly true that being able to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor and the pleasures of this world can bring happiness. However, it’s also true that certain people who seem to have it all – celebrities, billionaire heiresses or famous artists – often end up addicted to drugs or sometimes even suicidal. So if the key to life is not success or the temporary pleasures of this world, the big question is, what is?
I like this commentary by J. Stafford Wright, from his article, ‘The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes’
The book is the record of a search for the key to life. It is an endeavor to give a meaning to life, to see it as a whole. And there is no key under the sun. Life has lost the key to itself. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” If you want the key you must go to the locksmith who made the lock. “God holds the key of all unknown.” And He will not give it to you. Since then you cannot get the key, you must trust the locksmith to open the doors.
This is one of the areas that shows the stark contrast between the atheistic worldview and the biblical worldview.
Wright goes on to say:
The Christian answer is that the universe does make sense. There is a plan and a purpose that has its center and its climax in Christ. We as Christians have been predestinated to be an integral part of that plan. But not even to Christians has it been given to comprehend the plan. Not even a Christian can explain how everything that comes into his life takes its place in the plan. But, none the less, all the time he is trying to catch a glimpse of a certain wholeness that will link together all his individual experiences. But again and again he is driven back to the position of Romans 8:28: “We know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose”; or, if ho theos is read in place of ton theos, “We know that God works all things for good with them that love him.”
The Christian attitude then is one of faith and confidence. The Christian says, “I know that all these things must play their part in God’s total plan. I long to know what the plan is and to see it as a whole, and I shall always go on trying to see it. But in the meantime I will live my life one day at a time, believing that in the common round of life I am doing the will of God. I will be content with what God gives me and take my life from the hand of God.”
The Book of Ecclesiastes is interpreted in different ways, but one thing is for sure. Our life in this world is short, in the grand scheme of things. The pleasures of this world are temporary. At the time of death, there is no difference between a prince and a pauper – they both die the same way they came into this world, with nothing.
Ecclesiastes ends with the final conclusion – fear God and keep his commandments, that is the duty of mankind. That might sound like bad news to those who don’t know God, but there is good news. The very word “Gospel” means good news. There is a Creator who loves you so much that He was willing to give His life for you. In the same way that an earthly parent would take a bullet for their child, who they love and care about so much. So our hope and salvation is in the One who fulfilled the law perfectly and stood in our place, bridging the gap between God and man.
I believe that all of us have a sense of eternity. That is what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says. However, it’s easy to put our focus on this temporary life. So my prayer is that we all will have a more eternal perspective, and not be sidetracked or discouraged by the things of this world.
Amen! Here’s the video:
Please share your thoughts on the book of Ecclesiastes, or the topic of meaning in general. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!