The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever . . .
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun . . . No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NIV)
If you weren’t feeling down before you read the above passage, I’m pretty sure you are now. Years ago I chaired a worship planning committee. At one point I thought it would be a good idea to open up each weekly meeting with a brief devotional; however, for some reason which I cannot fathom, I decided to launch the devotional series by going through the book of Ecclesiastes. Week one went down like a lead balloon. It seemed that starting a devotional series with the verse, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” just didn’t set the right tone.
Of course not everything is meaningless, but the “Teacher” was trying to make a point here, I’m just not sure that I like it all that much. When it comes down to it the Teacher is saying that our individual lives are just one endless repetitive cycle taking place within a world that continues on eternally. The world in which we live was here before us and will continue long after we are gone. The Teacher paints a rather gloomy portrait of our lives – wearisome, unquenchable, old news and soon to be forgotten.
Yet, I would like to think that is not the only way to look at our lives. It is a little tricky to quote just one part of Ecclesiastes, because even a positive verse or two, can soon be followed by more doom and gloom. However, I would like to point to a brief less gloomy moment in chapter three.
He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
This verse follows the famous, at least for my generation, for every season passage (see Turn, Turn, Turn by The Birds) and it soon gets gloomy again with more, “life is meaningless” comments. But, for a brief second, the Teacher points to what I believe lays at the heart of the message – “eternity in the human heart.” You see, life can be pretty wearisome and seem meaningless; however, we were made for eternity and when we keep our eternal nature in mind, then the brief time we are here on earth is kept in perspective.
Yes, life can be difficult, full of tragedy, a burden and far too short while at the same time feeling far too long, but as eternal beings, this is just the prelude to something far greater, far more interesting, far more invigorating, and “new every morning.”
So, join us this Sunday morning at The Sunday Gathering. We are going to take a closer look at this passage and most importantly, we are going to take some time to remember that terrible day five years ago when 18 families lost their homes and a little boy lost his life in the 59 Ardglen Fire.
So, 11am at The Sunday Gathering, 9 Ardglen Drive.