What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind

My Ecclesiastes

I’m in one of those depressed moods where I get angry with God for creating human life. Because it all seems so pointless. We scrabble around in this life, brief in the span of history but long in the weariness of living it, and for what?!?

God never feels lonely, yet He created usShattered Image Bearers

We were created in God’s image. But we decided that His perfection wasn’t good enough. We chose to try to achieve our own perfection through lesser things, condemning ourselves to enslavement to an endless search for satisfaction.

We were created for fellowship with God. In union with Him is where we find true fulfillment. But the vast majority of us will leave this earth without ever finding it.

So, why?

He wasn’t lonely.

I don’t want to deal with the mess of being human. The mess of being human and having to deal with other humans. Of having to live with the fallout of the pain and ugliness we inflict on each other.

We were created for fellowship with God. We were created for fellowship with others.

A family. God as Father. All humanity as siblings.

But that’s not the way it worked out.

Because we can never believe the Truth that He is enough. We don’t feel like we’re getting all we need from Him, so we believe we can’t. We’re too impatient. We don’t want the bitter with the sweet. We don’t want the difficult. We don’t want to give up what we mistake for pleasure. We prefer lies to Truth, because they are tailored to the moment.

When I feel God isn't giving me all I need, I believe He can't. I'm too impatient. Click To Tweet

So most of us will never be redeemed.

We will live lives of futility, ending with an eternity of hopelessness. We will suffer to various degrees in this life, and beyond our ability to comprehend, forever. Forever.

For the vast majority, life is utterly hopeless. We attach our desires to lesser things, making idols of all that catches our attention. We chase after temporary sensation, running further and further from the embrace of ultimate pleasure, into the grip of never-ending horror.

We attach our desires to lesser things, making idols of all that catches our attention. Click To Tweet

How very Solomon-like. Not the noble young man who asked God for wisdom and knew what a mother’s love would choose. Nor the passionate and cherished lover. But the old man who’d looked to so many less-thans, tasted them, chased them, held them, and found them empty. The Solomon who realized that there was nothing worthy in this life.

But we live our lives in ignorance of reality. And it’s NOT blissful ignorance, because so much of the time we’re miserable, and numbing ourselves.

Where’s the Hope?

So, can I turn this around? As Solomon did?

But did he? Isn’t his summary as depressing as his observations?

And the Proverbs, to be honest I usually can’t understand why people are so fond of or set on them. Some people mistake them for Promises, but they’re observations and helpful understandings of what Solomon saw as he watched people, strong and weak, live their lives, for good or bad, in pleasure and in pain, in plenty and in want. It’s the Ecclesiastes of his younger self. When, after choosing his weakness for women and their pagan ways, his wisdom was not what it had been, but he clearly believed there was good, that it was worthwhile and could be rewarded.

But it didn’t work out so well for many of those less powerful people, did it? And with all Solomon amassed, he still found himself wanting… more

Because less is never enough. And everything – every possession and pleasure, every experience and emotion – is less than God.

Less. Apart from Him we can only ever have less.

When you’re depressed you recognize the worthlessness of all the world strives after, and the emptiness in everything.

So, where’s the hope? I can’t send a post out into the world, out to you, without hope.

In the end, Solomon reminded his reader to seek God before he’s old, life stinks, and then he dies. NOW is always the best time to seek God.

“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” Ecclesiastes 12:8, NIV.

Um, thanks. Not what I need to be reinforcing here, Solomon. I have that tidbit memorized! Which is why I don’t pay you an extended visit here in Ecclesiastes any more than once every year or two. Your Song makes me feel inadequate. I’ll usually choose studying God’s Promises instead of your proverbs. If I’m going to wade into the It’s better to have never been born stuff, I’ll sit with Job awhile; to be honest, in the end I trust his judgment more than yours, and get to witness him stand back up after his humbling.

Solomon leaves us with the unpleasantness of the aging process, and reiteration of the need to fear God and obey Him. His parting shot: judgment.

Fearing God is good and necessary, as is obedience. But fear and obedience are not just about escaping punishment, as one could think reading this. They’re not about making ourselves worthy of a better ending than beginning. As Solomon said another time, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and learning about Him gives us understanding. As we learn about God, His character, we better understand the fullness of the alternative to judgment.

Remembering there is judgment, that we can’t just do whatever we want, is important, but letting it overwhelm our thinking is crippling. And wrongheaded. When we fear judgment, we fear suffering and pain. When we properly fear GOD, our perspective shifts. We recognize the reality of our place in the universe relative to God’s. We know we are small, but invited to rest in His vastness. We know we are sinful and deserve judgment, and that God is holy and a righteous judge. Despite it all, He loves us. He provided atonement because we cannot save ourselves.

Despite it all, He loves us. Click To Tweet

Solomon could get himself whatever he wanted. It would be unpleasant for someone like him, to consider giving up those things for something invisible. We’re not as wealthy, but we struggle, too. We don’t want to accept that the things we run to and cling to, are things we need to give up to get a better life – the life in which everything isn’t meaningless.

Apart from grace everything truly is meaningless. But we’re not out of the reach of grace. Whether or not we recognize it, we breathe it in with every breath.

But what do we choose to do with it?

Take heart, Friend. Depression doesn’t last forever. Because of grace, life has meaning. And you have a purpose.

What do you choose to do with grace? Click To Tweet

Life can be painful... but grace gives everything meaning

 

If you appreciated My Ecclesiastes, you may also find value in these posts:

Alone

Four Toxic Lies and the Truth to Defeat Them

The psalmists did it, so can I: express my pain, reiterate my trust, choose gratitude

7 thoughts on “My Ecclesiastes

  1. Thank you for being so open and for your truth. I clicked to read your post because our bible study is in Ecclesiastes right now. You’ve given me food for thought. Do you think Solomon was depressed and not able to find satisfaction of contentment? I’m only in chapter 4. Today our verse was: Ecclesiastes 4:13
    Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.
    While I’m not in love with this book of the bible, I see the purpose in the words.

    • If it’s in the Bible, it has purpose, and I always read Ecclesiastes when I read through the Bible. But I avoid just sitting down and reading it casually, if that makes sense, because it usually feeds my weakness. Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible are “good” or “bad” (and there may be a time I’ll need to dig more deeply into Ecclesiastes).
      Many of Solomon’s thoughts echo my own when I am stuck in the dark. Throughout it, and at the end, especially, I need a healthy dose of God’s grace tangibly expressed in other areas of Scripture. I find it difficult to read the book in light of the rest of Scripture, which is how we should always approach Bible study, lest we develop bad theology based on passages in isolation.
      You will find your study valuable. It’s just difficult for me to read when I am overwhelmed by my own struggles with the meaninglessness of life. Don’t chew too long on my perspective; I’d hate for it to color your approach to find what God means to say to you.
      I find the verse you quoted interesting in light of its author, don’t you? Solomon does sound depressed and dissatisfied to me. But I have a very large depressed and dissatisfied streak of my own :).
      I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as you go, if you think of it.

  2. Can I relate? Oh, my, yes. To all of it, but these pieces, in particular, struck me: “I don’t want to deal with the mess of being human. The mess of being human and having to deal with other humans. Of having to live with the fallout of the pain and ugliness we inflict on each other.” Wow…yes! And this: “Because we can never believe the Truth that He is enough. We don’t feel like we’re getting all we need from Him, so we believe we can’t. We’re too impatient. We don’t want the bitter with the sweet. We don’t want the difficult. We don’t want to give up what we mistake for pleasure. We prefer lies to Truth, because they are tailored to the moment.” Gulp…yes. Thank you for this raw, lovely post, Melinda.

    • It can be so difficult to remember grace and believe it’s worth it in the face of so much darkness! I’m reminded of some Jason Gray lyrics:

      It’s not like I’m trying to be optimistic
      If the truth be told I’d rather dismiss it
      And be free of the burden
      Of the living that hoping requires

      To bring my heart
      To every day
      And run the risk of fearlessly loving
      Without running away

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: