Monday, 5 November 2007

Ecclesiastes 1

Have you ever said to yourself - 'What's the point?' or 'Why bother? It's not going to make any difference.' I'm sure we've all had these kinds of thoughts and said them out loud about all sorts of things. Maybe we've even said them about life itself. What's the point? The monotony of life goes on and on and I'm nothing in the grand scheme of things. I'm a blip, a speck of dust and no-one will care when I'm gone. Why bother? My short life is meaningless. If you've ever felt like this, you're not alone. The writer of Ecclesiastes (probably King Solomon) felt the same...


Seems like a pretty depressing book so far doesn't it? Why am I even blogging about it? I could easily have found something more inspiring and uplifting. The main reason I've gone for this book is because I'm convinced we can immediately identify with the writer and what he's saying because we've all had thoughts and feelings like these.

People get excited about all sorts of 'new' things but essentially Solomon's right: 'What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun' (v9). True, there's new discoveries and inventions but ultimately they don't change our lives that much. They may well revolutionise certain tasks we have to perform but these things have little impact on the way we exist in humanity. We still live, breathe, talk, hear, see, smell, taste, touch, learn, yearn, strive, desire, love, hate and we all die. What's the point?

The cycle of life and death goes on and on and on. Even the cycles within life are fairly predictable and monotonous. The water cycle goes round and round, the earth spins, the sun rises and falls, the moon does its thing and the wind blows around and it doesn't make a scrap of difference. Where's the significance? What's the point?

Sometimes we find it hard to be motivated to do anything because of the hugeness of the universe and the predictability of the people we share it with. If people will continue to live and die long after I'm gone, what's the point in me getting a job or getting married or learning to drive or eating breakfast? My existence isn't changing anything. What's the point?

Solomon sees all that humanity does and he says 'what is crooked cannot be straightened' (v15). People's lives seem ineffectual and pointless. Even though he's attained great wisdom and understanding about things to make these observations, he says even this is pointless because he knows that knowing it won't change anything either! In fact, he realises that the more he learns, the more he's frustrated because he sees the futility of life even more clearly than before. What's the point?

Something's wrong here. Life wasn't like this in the beginning. God saw everything that he had made and said it was good. Really good! Being alive was good. Being part of creation was good. Living was good. Really good! What's gone wrong? In a word - sin. Sin has been wrecking our lives and our world since Genesis so much so that Solomon can make the observations he does and we know exactly what he's on about because we feel it too. We know all too well what life is like and how pointless it can feel.

In this book, Solomon will explore various avenues as he tries to answer the question we've been coming back to - 'What's the point?' I believe we will get more out of this book if we remember the bigger context. In the light of Genesis we can see that things are the way they are because we've lost something and we need to get it back! Things weren't always like this and they won't be like this for ever. We're caught in the middle time of living in a sinful world and it's not as it should be but there is hope because we know there's more to life than what we can see right now. We need to hold this in our minds otherwise we might get totally down for the next couple of weeks as we read this stuff! Remember Genesis! Remember hope! Solomon will take us there in the end but for now, let's wrestle with the difficult questions he asks on his journey to find out what the point of life really is.

A prayer - Father, thank you for life. Thank you that in the beginning you made all things good. But now things are a long way from good. You know exactly what's on my mind. You know the things that hurt me and confuse me. I'm sorry and I'm totally dependant on you for my next breath, for tomorrow and the rest of my life. Please help me see your bigger plan to restore things to what they were when you made them at the start. Please show me how you're remaking me even now. And may your love at work in my life bring me joy instead of despair! Amen!