Is this all that there is? Birth. Life. Work. Death. Fun. Laughter. Food. Drink. Is life just a series of cyclical moments where people all experience the same things that have been happening since the beginning of time? If this is all there is, then the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes is right: (Chapter 1: 1-11)
1The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens[c] to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
among those who come after.
Read on and you will find that this book has a very depressing message. If life under the sun is all that there is, then life is vain. In other words, if life without God is all there is, then life really is hopeless. If all that we work for, all that we live for, and all that we plan for is meant to fulfill us here and now, then there is very little hope. The answer to the questions he poses, and the solution to this problem are not found in the book of Ecclesiastes itself, but rather in the rest of the pages of Scripture. We are made to live for something more than this life alone. The searching and longing for fulfilment that each person feels and strives after cannot be found in anything that this life has to offer. Not in a person, a family, a child, a job- and if you don’t believe this, it really is just a matter of time (and an honest assessment of yourself) before you experience that sense that once you’ve gone after that thing you hoped would satisfy your craving for meaning and purpose, it just wasn’t what you’d thought it would be.
Do you have those very questions? Do you ask yourself, “Is this all that there is? Once I die, will that be it?”. Do you seek after happiness and satisfaction in a thousand different things that never fulfill your longing to find meaning and purpose? This past week, I’ve been listening to a sermon series by Tullian Tchividjian. He is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and happens to be the grandson of Billy Graham. I can’t encourage you enough to listen or watch this series called “Life Without God” and hear him unpack the philosophical questions and truth found in this little but powerful book of the Bible. The Bible forces us to ask ourselves difficult questions, but does not leave helpless, and this series is a great start to thinking through these issues and finding those answers.