October 21st, 2016 § Leave a Comment
Then I was reading Ecclesiastes. It is one of the best things ever written. If you haven’t recently, go give it a read. I had before this last time read Ecclesiastes at least a dozen times. And in all those times, never had I seen what struck me this time around. The central theme of Ecclesiastes is happiness. No joke. It really is.
The refrain that gets our attention is Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and chasing after the wind. Reading it, we think, “Okay, this book is a downer.” But we’re missing it if we do not couple it with the other recurring mantra in the book “… under the sun.” Everything isn’t meaningless. What is meaningless is everything under the sun or better way to say it might be: Everything in this world, in and of itself is without meaning. And responding to the impulse to run after them will have one feeling as hopeless as chasing after the wind.
If I can accept this as true, then the real point of Preacher’s message kicks in.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.
Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love,
all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days.
For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might … Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
It is in the letting go of a life of transcendent glory in the mundane world that I can enjoy the beauty of living under the sun. When I reject that the things in this world can, if worked just so and so, be glorious, then the glory that exists somewhere other than under the sun can be infused into the human, the earthly. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
God is not here. But he is real. And if you would believe him, he will fill a meaningless world with meaning, the dreariness with glory. So, go eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart … Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days for this is your (wonderful) lot in life.