“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’ What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:1-3
And so begins the book of Ecclesiastes, a book full of “vanity” and “striving”. Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived, wrote this book. The kingdom of Israel was at peace during his reign. He built the most magnificent temple for God. He lived a life full of “wine, women, and song”. Yet he recognized that there was no lasting happiness found in the temporary pleasures of life. And (spoiler alert!) as you continue reading the book, he discovered the only source of true happiness and purpose – living life to its fullest, with God.
What lessons there are in this book! Even in the “Eeyore-ish” declarations of the futility of living…
“A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular course the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun…I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:4-9, 14-15
What exactly is Solomon saying? I look at this and think of the movie Groundhog Day. The poor man relives the same day, day after day after day, until he gets it right and learns some lessons. Sometimes I feel like I am living the same day, day after day, week after week. How time does fly! Yet the alarm clock goes off, the laundry, dishes, cleaning, working must still be done. A weekend comes, a weekend goes. Monday, oops, it is already Friday. Does anyone else feel like this?
Yet even in the times when life is “so daily”, there are little rays of joy and sunshine: the laughter and good times shared with loved ones and friends, the delectable smells and tastes of coffee and chocolate (now you know my weaknesses), the sweet song of a bird, the content purring of a cat, the warm embrace of a spouse, the distinct blue of the sky, the familiar pages of a good book, the rich colors and fragrances of emerging flowers, the delightful giggle of a baby, the simple smile of a stranger. Life is filled with these little jewels, but it is up to us to take notice and appreciate them.
Is life really futile? The sun rises, the sun sets. The wind blows. The water flows. I can see the fingerprints of God in the cycles of nature. Everything is ordered and controlled. There is a method to the “madness”. God established the length of days, the sunrises, the sunsets. God mapped out the wind patterns. God set the water into motion, and He designed the evaporation/precipitation/weather cycles. God has created it all. And He holds it all together. Jesus is the “nuclear glue” that literally holds the particles of the universe together! (see Hebrews 1:3 ~ “upholds all things by the word of His power”)
So, is all really vanity and striving after wind? As Solomon concluded in the musings of this book, apart from God life is vanity.
God is wooing us, calling us to Him, in the stunning sunrises and sunsets, the rolling waves of the sea, the whistling of the wind, the “dailiness of life”. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” ~ Psalm 19:1
Don’t succumb to the “life is so daily” attitude, but look around you for the little jewels embedded in your day. And look up, for God is declaring His glory, and His love, for YOU!
Live today with a thankful heart, singing a love song to your Saviour. 🙂