Life feels meaningless at times. When it does, one of the best and worst thing you can do is read Ecclesiastes. I call it Proverb’s cynical counterpart. Here’s a short video on it from the Bible Project.
An oft-repeated phrase that’s in it is “meaningless” or “vanity” depending on the translation. The word it’s translated from is hevel, which means vapor in the wind.
Here now, unable to grasp, gone the next.
Albert Einstein said that those that know the most are the unhappiest. The Bible said it before he did, Ecclesiastes 1:18, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
You see how it could be, should be, and the reality that it isn’t so. It pains you. I sometimes feel like I’m only warning the air. People I care about going down the wrong path, and the grim certainty I have when I predict what will happen.
The World and Mortality
The world is amazing but temporary. I think on mortality often as entropy overtakes everything. If there wasn’t a Heaven to look forward to, it would be quite depressing indeed.
The headlines are full of evil. Someone is getting shot, violence is ramping up, corruption, outrage flaming up, etc. All will have their time, and for our part in it, we’ll have to answer to God.
What You Have
We shouldn’t face life alone, friends can help. Friendship, relationship, it’s one of the few things that aren’t called meaningless. Unlike the love of money.
In fact, find joy in what you have rather than obtaining more. This too isn’t meaningless.
Why be satisfied? Because it will all end, and having that knowledge will make you appreciate it. You never truly cherish something until it’s gone. Reflecting on that causes a priority check.
Both inevitably come.
How To Respond
Life is infuriatingly puzzling. It bothered Solomon, too. So where does that leave us? With this:
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.