The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
says the Teacher.
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.
I have recently read the book of Ecclesiastes, a book written with profound wisdom and insight. Most people view it as a depressive and negative book, but I can assure you that it is far from a piece of dark writing but rather a realistic view of our existence. Solomon, the king of Israel, observed the way people lived, pondering upon their livelihood and had discovered the futility of it all. It makes no sense at all! This is why he called life meaningless.
For a person may labour with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labour under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night, their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
Think of life like this. You go to school for 12 years. You graduate or get a matric. Which isn’t really enough to earn a decent living. But you need to make money, right? You need to go to college to get a better education to get a better job, but you don’t have money to study because you can’t get a decent job. A vicious cycle grabs the young man or woman by the throat, choking the life out of them with debt.
But it doesn’t end there, does it?
Suppose you manage to get your degree and get that job. What then is there in life? A person may have this car or house, but they don’t own it, do they? No, the bank does! So we spend our lives working, stressing and worrying that if we had to lose our jobs or fail to make a payment, we might lose all that we have worked hard for. A poor man strives to have what he doesn’t own. A rich man seeks to make sure he doesn’t lose what he already owns. The question is: Is there really a difference between the two? Yes, there is. One entertains the illusion that makes the stress and worries worth it. Having what you don’t own only makes you a slave to the one who truly owns it. So a man will persevere through the abuse he faces at his job to keep what he doesn’t fully own.
But there is a greater sorrow in all this. A man will spend his life working to pay off his house. And when he retires, he has fully gained all that he had desired to own. But now his life is spent, with nothing left of it, to enjoy what he has worked for! How meaningless?! We spend the majority of our lives stressing, worrying and submerged in unhappiness only to arrive at the winter ends of our livelihoods with nothing to spare?! What’s the point?
Whoever loves money never has enough;
Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
We all wait for a promotion so that we would have a better life. But when will it all be enough? We constantly upgrade our lives, and our salaries are never enough because we always want more. Typically, it’s because we are never happy with what we already have. We have created ways to occupy our time by adding more and more attractions to it, filling up our time with unnecessary things. We get promoted to give our families a better life but then we are too busy to spend time with them. That too is futile.
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
But time and chance happen to them all.
If you think that you have a particular strength, do not think that the world will give you a chance at it. Many people had talents or gifts or skills, and they were not offered a platform. A man who had a degree in chemical engineering was seen painting a store. There were no opportunities for him to utilize what had cost him much. Being intelligent doesn’t mean that you will go far in life, and being incompetent doesn’t mean you won’t go far in life.
If the axe is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
But skill will bring success.
Hard work isn’t always the answer. Sometimes working smart and intelligently can gain better results.
Ship your grain across the sea;
After many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
You do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
Or whether both will do equally well.
Do not have only one source of income.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
For this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
Whether it is good or evil.
You might wonder why I wrote such a sad and despondent blog post. Well, it’s very simple. If we live for what is here on this planet, then our lives are meaningless. We work hard for that which is temporary, an illusion that fades away after time passes. We struggle for years only to give up our breath, leaving all our hard-earned assets behind. The way we look at life affects the way we live it.
But what if we lived life in the light of eternity? And what if the way we live affects where we go afterwards? And what if the way we lived our lives affects how we spend eternity? Then would there be a change in the way we live? Would our perspective change? Would we not please God in every breath rather than chase the wind? Would we not obey His commands rather than give up that which is eternal for what is merely passing?
If we have our eyes upon this earth, we are filled with despair and hopelessness, but if we set our sights on heaven, we can only wait to catch a glimpse of the glory soon to be revealed…