The Search for Meaning: Ecclesiastes 1

As I opened my Bible to Ecclesiastes this morning, I got scared. I was reading the first few lines: “Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (read the rest here) This shocked me, because I’ve actually been dealing with this lie in my heart for a while. I thought the Bible was supposed to be a source of hope and joy, and a guide for righteous living. Every day I strive to find motivation and meaning and, on a bad day, my resolve to stay positive disappears and I begin think that life is stupid and I lose my sense of purpose. I think everyone has probably thought something similar at one time or another. I have had my doubts about life, especially as it relates to our big invisible God. To find a passage in the Bible that outright states this outlandish claim was horrifying; “What if this is true? What is life really has no meaning?” I thought.

In my recent past, I have overcome this lie. Life does have meaning. I now know that I choose to make my life mean something. I choose to live for myself or for God. I choose to walk with purpose and excellence, or to walk with laziness and carelessness. I choose to believe that my life has meaning, or I choose to believe that it means nothing. My outlook, and the daily commitment to remember and preserve this outlook, determines what comes out of my life and whether or not it has meaning. In John 3, Jesus says that it is a choice to follow Him or not.

But Ecclesiastes 1 says it all is meaningless. King Solomon, whom most believe wrote this book, went on to say that all our hard work is for nothing, that everything dies and great people and great deeds are never remembered after centuries and centuries. He talks about the infinite eternity of Earth, and the greatness of nature, and how compared to eternal things, we are small and meaningless. We are specks of dirt, grains of sand, hidden among millions and billions of others. The winds and the waters have always been and always will be, but humanity is a just a blip. One person’s lifespan is minuscule and insignificant. All of the wisdom and knowledge we acquire doesn’t do anything, over the large span of eternity.

Why is that in the Bible? Why would someone write this, and then why would someone else choose to preserve this miserable passage in the Bible? It doesn’t bring hope or joy; it brings despair and the feeling of being lost to me. So why has it been preserved through all of these centuries, since the days of King Solomon? If I was curating the content of the Bible, I would not want to keep this pessimistic passage.

It is there because it’s important. It’s important to remember that it’s not all about us. It’s important to remember the greatness of God, and to humble ourselves at the bigness of eternity. It is important to take note that before Christ and before we had access to Heaven, this was our life. Obscurity and meaninglessness is what we would have had without Jesus. He gives our short lives a purpose, and He gives us Heaven and our inheritance.

Life is meaningless without Jesus, our savior. Our work is useless without the greater reward of Heaven. In John 12:25-27, Jesus says,

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. ‘Now my soul is troubled,’ and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

This implies that serving the Lord is where we draw meaning. Jesus is here in our moments of loss and despair, and He is the reason we keep the faith. Without Him, we are nothing. But with Him, we are Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses in His Kingdom. This passage reminds us to stop thinking that this life is all there is, because there is so much more meaning to our lives than hard work and toil. Stop believing the lie that everything is meaningless, and choose to observe the positive perspective that is stated in Jeremiah 1 and Psalm 139. God’s eternity is so much grander than we can fathom, but He also cares for the sparrows. I’ll leave you with this:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34

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