Meaning of Life
I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless (v.1).
The meaning of your life is the meaning you give
it,” writes philosopher A. C. Grayling in his book
Thinking of Answers. He suggests trying to create
meaning in our lives through the pursuit of relationships
and goals, by developing our talents and interests, and
through our hopes and desires. Grayling concludes that
life itself is meaningless and the only meaning we can
find is the meaning we make.
Surprisingly, Grayling’s words seem to echo some
found in the Bible. The writer of Ecclesiastes, a
philosopher himself (Ecclesiastes 1:13), surveyed life intently:
nature (Ecclesiastes 1:5); the cycles of history (Ecclesiastes 3:1);
life’s injustices and its riches (8:14) and concluded:
“Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Solomon then tried out Grayling’s answer to finding
meaning. He sought it in sex, through wives and
concubines (Ecclesiastes 2:8); he pursued it through work,
(Ecclesiastes 2:4); he tried pleasure, indulging every desire of
his eye (Ecclesiastes 2:1); he tried materialism (Ecclesiastes 2:7) and philosophy
(Ecclesiastes 2:12). And his answer to them all? They were also
meaningless. Not one of them was immune from death,
disaster, or injustice (Ecclesiastes 5:13). Solomon, it turns out, was
more pessimistic than today’s nihilist philosophers!
Rays of light break in throughout his musings. We can
find some fulfillment when God is part of our eating, drinking, and working—
”For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24). Life will feel
meaningless sometimes, he counsels, but remember your Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Instead
of exhausting ourselves by trying to figure life out, we should “fear God and
obey His commands” (vv.Ecclesiastes 12:12).
Life has many pleasures and sorrows, but its meaning always is found in Him.
The Teacher didn’t know about the hope of resurrection. Read
Romans 8:11 and consider his sadness in light of these verses.
How much do you seek life’s meaning through impermanent things?
How have you been doing things “with” Him and “for” Him?