“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
My devotional reading lately has taken me to Ecclesiastes. It has comforted me to revisit one of the Bible’s least comforting books, which is also one of my favorites.
Ecclesiastes is not a cheerful book. It’s certainly not a popular one. (Every time I walk into a church or Christian bookstore and see decorations inscribed with inspirational verses, I look for quotations from the Teacher. I never find any.) The main points of Ecclesiastes are basically that we will die, we won’t accomplish much of lasting significance, and we may as well resign ourselves to it.
I’ve already shared some thoughts on Ecclesiastes, so I won’t add much here. The book is beautifully poetic and brutally honest. I suppose that’s why I love it. Ecclesiastes asks big questions about life, the universe, and everything. It offers no false optimism. The Teacher finds few answers. In the end, he confesses his failures to understand and points his readers toward the God who understands everything.
Christians sometimes give the impression that Christianity solves everything, answers all questions, and leaves no room for struggles. Ecclesiastes admits that it just ain’t so. The Teacher lived in a world like ours—a world that often doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only person who sees it that way.
Your path is once again weirdly similar to my path. I reread Ecclesiastes just a few months ago as well. And this coming from someone who (at least lately) spends hardly two days in the same scripture book or reads more than a few sequential chapters at a time.
The rest of my comment here was so fun to write, and became so long, that I made it a blog entry instead. First paragraph here, and the rest on my blog:
Ecclesiastes can be easily misunderstood. I know because that’s where I was before I reread it – I thought it was just about the second verse proclamation that “all is vanity.” Discussing it with a Christian friend of mine, I realized how shallow my understanding was of this small but valuable book of scripture. So I took a second look, and as I reread it I marked the passages that seemed most quotable or full of hope…
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