I am writing this at 1:29AM Mountain Standard Time because I cannot sleep. The reason for my not sleeping is because life has hit me with a couple different problems that just won’t let me sleep. Granted, they are no where near what the people in the Philippines are facing. I could not imagine what it must be like to be in a situation like that especially at night. Your home destroyed. Perhaps loved ones gone or missing. You are literally sleeping on the ground and you only sleep because your body needs it, not because it’s comfortable.
But I digress (not to lessen the situation in the Philippines). In thinking about my problems, I’ve come to realize everything is meaningless.
One of the problems I’m facing now is that I’ve acquired a decent amount of debt because of my injury in the midst of having no job. While I was thinking about that, I thought “why was I given life?” I thought about how often I fail, how insanely selfish I am and how I couldn’t even imagine having a career in vocational ministry; the very thing the degree I’m working towards is preparing me for.
Even deeper, I thought about how Paul and the Disciples lived life. It must have been incredibly difficult, but their lives were wholly focused on Christ and sharing the gospel. It wasn’t focused on making enough money to live, on finding a spouse, and not on anything else that would focus on them. I desire so much for my life to be like that and not have an American life that is centered on making money, paying bills and obtaining luxuries.
Everything I’m doing is for me and my comfort. When I got that bill in the mail and opened it up, I became very anxious and stressed. This is because it meant an end for my comfort. It meant an end to see movies, be with friends, and just be carefree. I began to think of how pointless everything is in view of eternity with the Creator of the universe. But, I think what I’m truly realizing is that these things aren’t necessarily meaningless, they just aren’t truly satisfying in any way.
The author of Ecclesiastes realized this as well. Everything the author of this book calls “meaningless” is actually referring to the “reward” they bring. Wisdom is meaningless because “For with wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Pleasures are meaningless:
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was my reward for all my labor.”
This author experiences every pleasure and comfort a human being could have experienced and found them all meaningless. However, the way he concludes all this is interesting:
“Now all has been heard;
Here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
For this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”
Really? This person experiences anything and everything a person could want while on earth (wives [multiple so he had sexual pleasure], money, popularity, built things with his own hands, etc.). Anything you can think about that you think would enhance life, this guy had it and he concludes that we should fear God and obey his commandments? That’s the best thing to do in this life?
This life is meant to be a worshipful (bring worth too –> worthship) expression by sacrificially loving others while supremely loving our Creator in a heart that overflows with gratefulness and the Spirit of Christ. So, my life can be like Paul’s.
I will love like Christ did and share about what He did for my life to everyone I know. I will experience suffering, like Paul, but in a different way be it bills, relational pain (either romantic or brotherly) or whatever else life may throw at me. Paul worked hard and experienced suffering just like many will in America today. However, he realized something about his life and about all the pain that would come his way:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
An attitude like that brings joy like this:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of know Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I’ve lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
My brothers and sisters, if you are reading this with a heart that does not consider the value of knowing Christ deeply and fully or even at all I urge you to consider the worth or value of whatever you may be pursuing in light of eternity. If you are reading this considering everything is meaningless like I have, be encouraged that all things were meant for us to honor and glorify God. Also in the midst of hurt, pain, and sorrow, our God will be honored in our perseverance and there will be a day when we will be in His loving embrace and presence.
Grace and peace be to whomever reads this.