Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the planet, discovered the one thing that most of us will waste most of our life in pursuit of and never understand. To me, it is the entire theme of Ecclesiastes 1, summarized in this thought:
Do not stress over changing the world. The world is on a course of self-destruction, but Jesus came to save all who would believe on him from this devastating end.
Jesus did not come to change the world, but to save some from its assured end. Yet many will waste entire lifetimes trying to envoke change in their loved ones, their workplace, their community, etc. While this may sound pessimistic, it actually is liberating. It is liberating in the fact that the destiny of the planet and its inhabitants are in the hands of a loving and just God, not in yours or mine. Here are a few thoughts to piggy-back off of Solomon’s ideas in Ecclesiastes 1.
Everything will eventually revert back to its nature.
Changes, whether for the good or the bad, last only for a season. Solomon pointed out that one generation passes away, and another comes (vs.4). The sun rises each morning, sets each night, only to rise again the next day (vs.5). The wind comes out of the south one day, the north the next, and continues its cycle each day thereafter (vs.6). This just goes to show that your part on this planet, in this time, will not be imperative to lasting change. You break your back at work, only to one day retire and someone replace you the very next day. We fight to bring love and order into a community, only to have a new gang move onto the same street. We pass laws only to see them overturned or tweaked in the years to come. Work hard for change, but it will only last for a season.
The question then becomes “Why?”. The answer is found in two scripture passages. Psalm 115:16 shows us that not every thing that happens on the earth is God’s will. “The heavens are the Lord‘s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” People DO have a part to play in the day to day events of this planet.
But just as with everything, there is a balance to this answer, and it is found in Romans 8 where we find that God has the beginning and the ending of our story already written. Predestination is a dirty word in many circles, but is certainly a biblical concept. Personal decisions may affect the path you take in the middle of your life’s story, but in the end, God’s plan will succeed.
Understanding wisdom is as difficult a task as understanding foolishness.
Ecclesiastes 1:17 says “And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.” Answers to life’s most important questions can rarely be taught. These vital truths are discovered, meaning experience becomes key. Some of life’s greatest insights are discovered through wrong turns and stupid decisions. Just as it becomes a stretch to understand stupidity, true wisdom is a stretch for even the brightest minds. Most can understand situational principles that change with each circumstance, but few take the time and endure the affliction necessary to discover eternal truths.
With wisdom comes grief.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 says, “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” What was the conclusion that the wisest man on earth discovered about life? That trivial pursuits are vanity, or in other words a collosal waste of time and effort. This is not to say though that LIFE is a collosal waste of time and effort. Rather pursuing things that are not a part of your original design and purpose is like trying to ram your head through a brick wall…You’ll only feel discouraged and hurt in the end.