Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
It seems almost as if the old country song “Bony Fingers” must have had the same author as the book of Ecclesiastes. One of the lines to the song states, “Work your fingers to the bone . . . What do you get? Bony fingers.” Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes 1:3, “What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” The implied conclusion of both is, “if you work hard, there will be nothing lasting or worthwhile to show for it.”
That single statement is one of many reasons Solomon concludes, “Everything is meaningless.” In other words, life is vain. It is purposeless. The unending cycles of life depict an emptiness. There are generations that come and go. The sun rises and sets and rises again. The wind blows in different directions and then returns. Streams keep flowing to sea without filling it. No matter what we have seen or heard, we still want to see and hear more. Even history seems to repeat itself. Generations come and go without leaving a lasting memory.
Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?
Remember, though, that Solomon was looking at life “under the sun” (vv. 3, 9). That kind of life is different than life “in the Son” (Jesus). The message of Ecclesiastes is fairly straightforward: life without God is meaningless, but life with God is full of meaning. Life with no reference to or acknowledgement of God is futile and empty. It’s chasing after the wind. But life lived with God is life to the full and thus can be enjoyed because it is a gift from God. No wonder Jesus described part of the purpose of His coming with these incredible words that give us purpose: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Our study in Ecclesiastes will help us to examine from which source we are seeking satisfaction.
If your life seems futile, it is likely because you haven’t raised your view high enough. Are you only looking within the parameters of the natural world? Have you overlooked the fact that God has infused the natural world with spiritual, eternal significance?