Making Sense of the Journey has been our theme as we've studied the book of Ecclesiastes. What does it mean to live life "under the sun" a reference Solomon, the author, often mentions? It is striving to make sense of our existence apart from God's perspective. It is life as viewed through a clouded lens, using a crooked ruler, and a faulty guide.
"All is vanity" Solomon declares when he considers that the rich and the poor both end up in the same cemetery. The educated and the fool both fall prey to the thief and riches stored up in a lifetime go to someone else after we die. The memory of our good deeds are forgotten by generations to come and the young replace our hard work with their own ideas and efforts.
Sound depressing? It is if one believes this life is all there is. No matter how one tries to find purpose in their life, in the end, if there is no hope after death then life has no meaning other than what one gives it today.
Philosophers and thinkers in generations past have concluded this leads to utter, meaningless despair. To truly be consist with this hopelessness one must indulge in pleasure or pain, lighting a match that flickers and sputters until it eventually burns the fingers of the one holding it.
Not this generation. They're making a defiant, almost angry shout-out against the universe declaring "So you die. Get over it. Live in the moment. The sooner you deal with that the sooner you can start to find what gives your life meaning and the sooner you'll be happy."
Writing in Psychology Today, Jay Dixit says,
"It's still vanity" Solomon would say. While past generations lit matches this generation is holding a blow torch. It burns brighter, hotter, louder and certainly with more drama, but it burns out still. And when it eventually does, this generation will be left with a deeper sense of despair than the one's before for it won't just burn the fingers but surely it will burn the soul.
It should be noted that at Burning Man, the ultimate expression of living in the now - being alive in this moment, someone set up a phone booth to God for those in pain. Theoretically the liberation of the moment should have been relished by a crowd of 51,000 of the happiest people on earth.
"Nothing is new under the sun" wrote Solomon. We've been here before. We've seen this cycle repeated many times over in the past 3,000 years since Solomon's day. Search for meaning - find despair. Fill the void with stimulation - end with exhaustion. Live for today - have nothing left for tomorrow. Rinse and repeat.
Fortunately, Solomon ends his book with hope that doesn't disappoint. There is a God, He created us to find our greatest satisfaction and meaning in Him. And God's love for us is the only hope there is to find meaning. That hope is found in the Gospel.
God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that if anyone would believe in Him, they would not perish, but have eternal life." Jesus, God's son, said "I have come that you might have life and have it in full abundance." The life that is being sought for so desperately is only found in Jesus.
The theme of this study in Ecclesiastes has been how to live a good life: life under the Son, not the sun.
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