Nick Bonsall, Worship Team
A Matter of Perspective
What if the wisest, richest, most powerful man in the world told you that all of your life’s work—your achievements at your job, your financial portfolio, your effort poured into raising your children—was meaningless; that it was “vanity?” Would you believe him? Or would your desire to clobber him overshadow any thoughts regarding his believability? And not only your best efforts in productivity and philanthropy, but your pleasures, hobbies, and leisure as well? All meaningless; all dust blowing away in the wind. Would you receive the news well?
Most biblical scholars attribute the writing of Ecclesiastes to Solomon. Solomon was exceedingly rich in terms of material wealth. He was also extremely wise. If it could be had or experienced, Solomon could pay for it, and if it had power in the hearts and minds of men, Solomon could apply useful understanding to it through his wisdom. Yet for all of this, the man was unhappy and unsatisfied. In his experiences and observations, he saw injustice, oppression, toil, waste, and death all over the place. He saw the things that men did, are, and have–the good and the bad of it all. And he saw that no matter what, eventually it all blew away and the grave opened up to swallow the little that was left behind. Solomon is rich, yet not comforted; wise, yet sorrowful. He wants more than the vanity of the temporary things he sees filling the earth. In chapter 3, verse 11, Solomon gives a clue as to where his (and perhaps our own) vexation comes from. He says, “He also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” I usually find that the most frustration in my walk with God occurs when I do one of two things: try to prove my spirituality to God through toil, or try to figure out what God is doing and why He’s doing it.
“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” Do you ever feel like something is missing? Something you can’t quite positively identify, yet at the same time is something that seems so familiar? Like a word you can’t quite find to complete a thought, or perhaps a dream, half-remembered in the morning and barely a footnote of thought by noon. We are longing for something. We reach for it in our efforts to attain peace or seek adventure. There will be peace, and adventure, and beauty, and love and life beyond anything we could hope or ask for, yet what the longing is for is not just any one of those things. If I had to wrap it up in a word…well, I suppose “home” is the best I could do. Home unlike any you have known in this world. It will be the place you have been made for “before the foundation of the world,” and not merely that which you have labored to make into your space of comfort.
In chapter 3, verse 17, it is written, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.” Even for all of the vanity, injustice, pointless toil and death seen by the writer, there is recognition of the truth that God is over everything and will someday shine the light of His purifying fire on all that has happened under the sun from the beginning of time. God shall have the last word—and it will be heard by all.