By Sheryl Tay, Singapore
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” ’ (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 NIV).
Like the Teacher, I’m sure that we, at some point in time, have found life meaningless too. We have tried to make sense of the way this world works, and have tried to find purpose in life by setting goals for ourselves, both short-term and long-term. But after a while, we find ourselves asking the same question again, what’s the meaning of life?
Thankfully, this Teacher also noted that there is great purpose in all things. He wrote:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:1;11).
These verses point us to several truths about life:
1. God is sovereign and acts purposefully in life.
The Teacher makes it a point to emphasize that God is actively at work. He is active in all that He has “made”, “set” and “done.” And because He is actively involved in everything, He has a purpose for everything. All things have been perfectly and meticulously planned out so that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity” (v.1).
2. We cannot “cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (v.11).
The prophet Isaiah records a similar truth. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Limited by our human understanding, we are unable to grasp God’s intention for the things that happen in our lives. However, despite our disability to perceive all our life situations from God’s perspective, we can be assured of one thing:
3. He makes all things beautiful in His time (v.11).
The Teacher mentions a whole list of activities (both “good” and “bad”) in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 that may take place at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, we are, more often than not, clueless about the good that can come out of the “bad”. When adversity strikes, we stumble and start complaining about our “misfortunes”. All of a sudden, we forget that God is and has always been in control. He is making all things beautiful in His time (v.11).
So let us remain confident in the promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29).
The next time you feel that life is without meaning and purpose, be reminded that God is active in your life. He is fulfilling His purpose in your lives—that you will be “conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
Life is meaningful because we serve and revere a sovereign and purposeful God.