Ah, Ecclesiastes. There you are. Like many Old Testament books, I tend to forget you exist (Nahum? Who you be?). But here I am, flipping through your pessimism-drenched pages once again. Like Philippians, I always devour you during times like these. But unlike turning to Philippians for affirmation of the good, I basically turn to you for affirmation of the bad.
A month and a half later, I’m still recovering from an awesome, life-changing summer with YouthWorks, trying to figure out how to uncover or inject meaning amid a suddenly seemingly meaningless life.
Ecclesiastes appeals to me because of its unique tone. Page after page, the wisest man who ever lived keeps repeating that everything done under the sun is meaningless. That it’d be better to have been stillborn than to experience the tragedies of this fallen life. So harsh.
I only turn to this book during heightened times of despair and desire. I mean, yes, I certainly relate with Solomon’s woe-is-me diatribes. But what exactly am I looking for while reading this book? Affirmation that life sucks sometimes? Most times? All the time?
Ecclesiastes is meaningless if this is solely why I read it.
Of course life is hard. Am I really surprised when this reality slams into me with more force than Mr. Kool-Aid Guy into a brick wall?
Why do I need King Solomon to tell me I’m not alone in life’s endless struggle? That even he felt the slings and arrows of misfortune amid a life of unending luxury?
Instead of scouring through Ecclesiastes, why can’t I just acknowledge the road-wanderer with a cardboard sign or the frowney Walmart cashier or the thousands dying from hunger to realize I’m not alone in my “misery” (and also blessed in so many mighty ways)?
Further, why is it difficult to remember God’s faithful carrying through prior troublesome times? Why does this time feel too beyond His reach, far above His capabilities?
A dear person told me several weeks ago that we shouldn’t necessarily pray for all our problems to go away, but that above all we should pray for perseverance, for the ability to endure faithfully through temptations of faithlessness.
That’s hard, especially now. I want to go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow with enough work to sustain me, enough direction to lead me, enough friends to love me.
I really don’t want to pray for the endurance to walk this valley; I want the freaking valley to transform into this already:
I certainly don’t need King Solomon to wax poetic about life-suckage to reaffirm our shared hardships. Meaningless. Despair can be found everywhere if I only look for such things, but so exist the glories of life in between the mountain and the valley.
The laugh of an innocent child. Moments to impact another soul forever.
The pumpkin spice lattes of autumn. Reminders of simple seasonal joys.
The encouraging word of true friends who stick closer than a brother. Mainstays for eternity.
I’d appreciate your continued prayers along my aimless journey. Prayers for things to get “better,” sure, but ultimately prayers for perseverance. To remain faithful in the face of faithlessness. To maintain a life of meaning amid the meaningless.