Ecclesiastes is one of the most puzzling and provocative books in the entire Bible. Like coffee, it can be an “acquired taste” for people. In a dour sort of way, it deals with a key issue of human existence—namely, the meaning of life and all the questions surrounding that issue:
- “Who am I, and why am I here?”
- “What can I do with my life that will make it worthwhile?”
- “What’s the ‘big picture’ of this world, and how do I fit into it?”
The everyday weariness, frustrations, injustices, and sense of emptiness that people often experience during life “under the sun” don’t seem to square with the fleeting moments of happiness, joy, contentment, and fulfillment that are also part of the human story.
Aggravating the problem is a certain death that looms over every person—a dread that stands in sharp contrast to the pulsating life that each living person has now.
Ecclesiastes challenges us to think deeply about foundational questions. Life and all it contains appear to be meaningless vapors—here today and gone tomorrow. What, then, is the big picture of this world and its intersection with our transitory lives?
And if there is no Big Story at all, what is the point of all our little stories? Ecclesiastes offers an answer that is rather surprising: Live now. Live forever. Amidst all the bad news of this world, there is good news in the end.
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