says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
After four years of parenting the sweetest of daughters I have come to realize that everyday holds a new and baffling challenge. Everyday my daughter has some new way to make me realize I know nothing about parenting. There are days she will have a complete melt down because her sock went on crooked… yes, you read that right. The sock went on a little crooked so that warrants a full blown melt down of throwing the sock across the room and crying uncontrollably. The only thing I can do is look in astonishment at how something so little set off such a huge reaction. You know how when your child acts a fool and your parents look at you and say it is payback? I wonder if that is what God does when she throws fits for crazy reasons. He is sitting back chuckling as I try to explain to my child that it is just a sock and not the end of the world.
This sock is so meaningless and I can see that as an adult however, what about the things I stress out over? What about some of things I spend so much time on?
King Solomon was a guy that had it all. When he had become king the Lord came to him and instructed him to ask for whatever he wanted and it would be given to him. Instead of asking for lots of stuff, he asked for wisdom and a discerning heart to lead the people he ruled. God was pleased with his request and blessed him with not only great wisdom far beyond anybody else but also riches and honor. 1 Kings 3:11-12 tells us:
11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
With so much wisdom that nobody on earth had ever been or will ever be more wise, he seems like somebody we should listen to. The book of Ecclesiastes is suspected to have been written by Solomon. It is a small book with just 12 chapters however, it is packed with quite a big lesson of what is important in life.
In Ecclesiastes 1:2 starts us out with:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
In Hebrew the word meaningless is ‘hebel’ which translates ‘vanity’. The definition is ‘vapor, breath’. Many other translations of this verse use the word ‘vanity’ in place of ‘meaningless’. It’s not necessarily that everything we are doing is meaningless but it is a ‘vapor’, it is just a ‘breath’ when compared to eternity. These things provide ’emptiness’ and are not fulfilling.
It seems that we all have this sickness, including myself. If we can just have this thing, this relationship, this status, this life then everything will be sunshine and cupcakes. I can’t tell you how stressed out I get when I make a mistake at work. I worry about getting fired, I worry about the repercussions my mistake may have caused, and most of all I worry over letting my team down. I spend so much time reflecting on this mistake and thinking about all of the bad that can happen from it when after it is all said and done, guess what… life went on. The business didn’t close and my life didn’t end. My family still loves me and I have a team that still trusts in me.
Matthew 6:25-34 tell us:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God wasn’t surprised by my worry and knew what the end outcome would be. Just the same as I look on my daughter as she has a complete melt down because of the sock, God looks on us as we worry about a mistake that was made or that thing that sucks the time from our lives.
In James 4:14 we are told:
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
The word ‘vapor’ is atmis in Greek and has a similar meaning to hebel in Hebrew. They both can mean breath or vapor. We are on this earth but a short while. 2 Corinthians actually tells us that what we deal with is light and momentary in this world when compared to what we are going experience once we pass from this world into eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18:
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
It doesn’t seem like a light burden at the time and many times it seems like an eternity in that one trial. But we need turn our focus from the hurt, pain, worry, stress, whatever to God and eternity. In Him is the only way we are going to find meaning for our lives. In Him is the only way we are going to find rest for our souls. In Him is the only way we are going to find hope for our future. So stop focusing on meaningless things and the momentary troubles of this world and focus on His kingdom and eternity.