Read Ecclesiastes 2
Focus on verse 15
My wife used to work in a long-term care facility caring for elderly folks who could no longer care for themselves. This is very rewarding work, but it can also be very emotionally draining as the realization sinks in that most of the people she is caring for are getting very close to taking the exit ramp from this world to the next. A few years ago with one of the residents who had come to the dining room for dinner, but it was taking some time before his dinner was brought out, so he ate his dessert, and went back to his room presumably to return in a while for dinner. When dinner had been served and the staff noticed that he had not returned, one of them went to inform him that the dining room would be closing soon so if he wanted some dinner he should return. What they discovered when they found him was that he had lay back down in his bed and peacefully departed from this world. It was from this experience that my wife adopted the phrase “life is uncertain – eat dessert first.”
There are many things in this life that are uncertain, but there is at least one thing that we can all count on, and that is that at some point every one of us will come to the end of our days. Fortunately, with the possible exception of those who find themselves waiting on death row for their execution date to arrive, most of us do not know exactly when and how this day will arrive.
In todays reading in Ecclesiastes Solomon describes his disappointment when he realizes that the wise man and the fool both ultimately come to the same end.
Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. (Eccl. 2:15)
He goes on to describe his disillusionment with life in general as he continues he search for meaning. There is a sense in this regard where one might be tempted to believe that ignorance is bliss. As child I remember having a much more optimistic view of life. I had no idea of the struggles and frustrations that lay ahead. All my needs were provided by my parents, I had no worries…life was mostly fun, fun, fun. The older I got the more freedom I wanted. Fortunately I had wise parents who taught me that freedom is accompanied by corresponding responsibility. As I took on more responsibility in order to gain more freedom and independence I began to realize there was a trade off going on. It was exactly this sense of vanity that Solomon describes leading to a sense of disillusionment with life as I reconciled myself with the reality that life is not all fun and games.
Once again, in order to find Solomon’s answer to all this, one must skip to the end of the book where we discover that it is God and His reconciling Himself with us through Jesus Christ that ultimately brings order and meaning back into this life. It would seem that the reason so many people struggle with finding meaning in their life, is because they are trying to find it in the absence of God, which is impossible.