Many people are in search for the meaning of life; my 18-year-old self was no different. Even the writer of Ecclesiastes felt that life was meaningless. Yet, God often reveals that there’s so much more than we can imagine.
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” Ecclesiastes 1:3-5
The imaginary bubble
Let me give you some background. I grew up in church and became a devoted follower of Christ at an early age. Living in middle class America, I had a somewhat “blessed” life. I didn’t have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I was never persecuted for my faith. I had shelter and a healthy family. And part of me believed that because I followed God, life would be ok. I would be safe and protected. Then, I went away to college, several hours away from my home and family, and things started to unravel. There were several deaths in my family while I was gone. As I mourned those losses, the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. My dad was nearby the destruction. For hours I watched footage of bodies and burning buildings on tv, uncertain whether my father was among the living or dead. I finally reached him on the phone to hear he was ok. I was thankful, but also shaken.
Part of me believed that because I followed God, life would be ok.
For the first time in my life, I felt truly afraid and vulnerable. I was a Christian, but life was dark. Life was unfair and full of pain- something I knew intellectually, but had not yet experienced. It scared me to think that my life and my family’s lives were not immune to pain and suffering just because we were Christ followers. It was as if the imaginary bubble of protection around me suddenly popped and I felt naked, raw and exposed, uncertain of the future, shaky in my faith, and questioning God’s love for me.
What did it matter?
As I wrestled with these feelings, I opened my Bible to Ecclesisastes. It felt that if life was so difficult, what did any of it matter? Did my going to college matter? Did it matter what profession I chose after college? What was the point? Were we just all here to suffer? And, if so, could I really and truly love and follow Jesus in the midst of suffering? It was easy to raise my hands in worship when life was safe and happy. But what about when it wasn’t? Did it even make a difference to God? Did my life even matter? All these questions raced through my mind and spun in my heart.
Then I read these words:
“I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecc. 1:13-14).
I found these words to be strangely comforting. I felt validated and less isolated in my feelings. As I prayed and cried out to the Lord, He spoke into my heart: “Follow me. I have plans for you. Your life matters. It will not be easy, but it will have purpose. Trust me. I am not done with your story.”
With or without Christ
It was in this moment that my faith made sense and took on a new depth. God calls us to trust in Him. In doing so, everything begins to have meaning and purpose, for He has a greter Story than we could ever create ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we are on the mission field, washing dishes in an apartment, or farming a field. All these things are really meaningless… without Christ. They take on new meaning with Christ as He purifies our hearts, teaches us lessons of service and sacrifice, and leads us to take great risks.
For everything under the sun done for the Son has meaning.
And as we pour out our simple lives, that seem so broken and meaningless, we become more like Jesus. In our broken becoming, we bring glory to Him.
And that is the meaning to life.
Read also: Want to be great? Be faithful!