CHASING EMPTINESS

Read:  Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Reflect:  In the spring of 1935, the wind blew 27 days and nights without stopping. Black blizzards of windblown soilblocked out the sun and piled the dirt in drifts. Families would have to climb out their windows and shovel the mounds of dirt away before they could open their exterior doors.  Day after day, they would dump out buckets of dust from the interiors of their homes. People and animals began to die of suffocation and “dust pneumonia.” Year after year, farmers kept on plowing up the dust and planting crops, hoping that the rains would finally return during the years of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, 1930-1939.  “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” are the beginning words of the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Can you hear those words echoing in the hearts of the approximate 2.5 million who were witnessing the burial of their hopes and dreams during the 1930’s? 

“All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind]. What advantage does man have from all his work which he does under the sun (while earthbound)?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, AMP) Maybe you have not experienced mountains of dirt blocking your back door, but have you ever felt “existential angst”, a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion, or anxiety in the face of an aimless or absurd world? Does your life resemble a Dust Bowl in which both the black clouds private and world events have robbed your ability to see a future?  Have you felt despair?

IS LIFE INHERENTLY WITHOUT PURPOSE?

An atheist himself, psychiatrist Ralph Lewis wrote: “Atheists do not believe that life is inherently purposeful or meaningful.” Left to our own devices, we just fill up days with what feels good for the moment, even though it quickly decays.  We are left with lives in which we are aimlessly shoveling away the dirt, day after day, after day. The good news is that God has built us for so much more. He has hot-wired inside of us a desire for Himself. That’s why Jesus asks: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”. (Mark 8:36) The author of Ecclesiastes examines the emptiness and futility of a life that does not consider eternity and the writer arrives at the conclusion there is an absolute necessity of a worldview which embraces eternity. 

WHAT ARE WE CREATED FOR?

Is there something that reaches beyond the best tomorrow you could ever imagine that a loving God has designed for you? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10) This is the hope and yearning of the believer, a purpose that was designed long before time.  We can rejoice in Psalm 5:3 “In the morning O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You, and eagerly watch.” We can go earnestly before the throne of God, declaring: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” (Ps. 138:8)

Apply:  Stephen King made the observation: “I don’t want to speak too disparagingly of my generation, but actually I do, we had a chance to change the world — and opted for the Home Shopping Network instead.” The darkness of daily scooping up shovelfuls of futility is the alternative to an active working faith life entrusted to a generous God.  As C. S. Lewis stated, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world” (Mere Christianity). God did not create His children to exist in lives that merely chase the wind or shovel out the dirt – day after day, after day!

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