November 16, 2013
READ: Ecclesiastes 2
As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere (v.11).
Shin was born in a North Korean prison camp, where he lived until he was 23. He never thought to escape, for he didn’t imagine that life was any different on the other side of the electrified fence. Then he met a new prisoner. Park told Shin about the outside world, especially that people enjoyed pork and boiled chicken rather than the rats that Shin ate to survive. One evening Shin and Park dropped the firewood they were collecting and ran towards the fence. Park arrived first, and was immediately electrocuted when he squeezed between the first and second wires. Shin crawled across his lifeless friend and scrambled to freedom. Today Shin lives in South Korea, where he calls attention to the barbaric conditions in the camps.
Shin’s life couldn’t be more different from King Solomon’s, and yet they are very much the same. Solomon enjoyed every pleasure a man could want: laughter, feasts, gardens, parks, palaces and concubines (Ecclesiastes 2:1-8). He made the rules that prisoners like Shin were forced to obey. Yet Solomon too was trapped in a prison of despair. He admitted that he “came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind” (2:17).
Our lives couldn’t be more different than either Shin’s or Solomon’s, yet they are very much the same. For true joy must come from the outside. Jesus must break into our world to tell us what we’re missing—having laid down His life so we can have life. Shin’s remarkable escape is almost too fantastic to believe, except that it has happened before. It happened to me, and Jesus provided the way out. —Mike Wittmer
Read Ecclesiastes 12 to learn how the meaning of life comes from outside our world.
Where would you be if God hadn’t broken into your world? Express your gratitude today by sharing God’s life giving Word with someone who desperately needs it.