Finding Meaning in a Meaningless World

Finding Meaning in the doldrums of life.
Ecclesiastes 1:3-11
“What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the Sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”

We all know the drudgery of life with its endless pursuit of the American dream. It seems the more we earn, the less we take home. The harder we labor, the more the debts pile up. The rat race becomes an endless jog on the treadmill where we are forever running but remaining in the same place. This is the reality that Solomon reminds us of. After our life we end up with the same thing we started: nothing. The rich, the poor, the powerful, and the forgotten all end up in the same pine box. All the works and achievements of man are transitory. We are confronted with the question, “What advantage does it give us to labor and spend our whole life pursuing what this world has to give us?”

    No matter how many advances we make, we still find ourselves back in the same place. While our technology has increased so that we now have comforts only dreamed about by former generations, the true nature of man remains the same. We still struggle with the same sins and fall prey to the same temptations. Throughout history, while technology brought new comforts, it also brought new ways to kill and destroy. In the Bible, we read of human sacrifice and the worship of sexuality. We are no different. Modern medicine has brought cures for diseases but also new ways to distort and destroy what God has created. We use our medicine to commit one of the greatest holocausts of history, the murder of the most innocent: children. We developed atomic fusion that has the potential to create unheard-of energy but also use it to make a bomb that has unparalleled destructive power. In ancient times, they worshipped sexual perversion and immorality. Today, we are doing the same thing. The age of information has also brought the age of moral perversion. Instead of worshiping God and finding our identity in him, we worship sexuality and find our identity in it. Twenty-five million people in the United States attend a church each week. Forty million people visit porn sites each week. Nothing is new. We fail to learn from history, which has repeatedly shown that a nation that embraces sin and moral perversion is a society that is destined to fail. Yet somehow, we think we are more enlightened and wise when, in reality, we are not.

However, this pessimistic view of history by the sage is not to lead us to nihilism and depression. It drives home the point that man cannot find meaning and purpose in the pursuits of this world. All the things that we deem to be so important ultimately are insignificant. This confronts us with the question, what then is significant and permanent? What is it that gives ultimate value and worth to life? In driving us to this question, the writer will repeatedly point out that true meaning comes from our relationship with God. Only what is genuinely spiritual is eternal; genuine spirituality is lived in obedience to God and a relationship with Him. Christ points us to the answer when he states, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, as set His seal.” In Matthew 4:4, Christ affirms, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” In response, Solomon would cry, “Now you get the point!” To seek meaning and purpose in this life rather than our relationship with God will only leave us empty, with a life devoid of meaning. But when the purusit of Christ and the building of His kingdom becomes our focus, our lives are elevated from the meaningless to the meaningful, from the transitory life of the present to the everlasting life of the eternal. When we realize the emptiness of this life, we begin to realize the fullness of our life in Christ.

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