Warren Wiersbe gives us a perspective on life and living in his discussion on Ecclesiastes taken from the Be Transformed Study Bible.
It’s as if Solomon were telling us, “Life is filled with difficulties and perplexities, and there’s much that nobody can understand, let alone control. From the human point of view, it’s all meaningless and folly. But life is God’s gift to us, and he wants us to enjoy it and use it for his glory. So, instead of complaining about what you don’t have, start giving thinks for what you do have—and be satisfied!”
Ecclesiastes contains a message for the faithful believer who wants to serve the Lord and have a fulfilled life in Jesus Christ. Solomon wrote, in effect, “Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend that problems don’t exist. They do! Face life honestly, but look at life from God’s perspective. Human philosophies will fail you. Use your God-given wisdom, but don’t expect to solve every problem or answer every question. What is important is to obey God’s will and enjoy all that he gives you. Remember, death is coming—so be prepared!”
Life without Jesus Christ is indeed “meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Eccl 1:14). But when you know Christ personally, and live for him faithfully, you experience “the joy of [God’s] presence and the pleasures of living with [him] forever” (Ps 16:11).
Ecclesiastes and its writer, Solomon, can best be understood by remembering the final written lines: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad” (Eccl. 12:13-14). This is one story to read with the ending in mind.
The last phrase in 12:13, “for this is everyone’s duty,” can be translated “this is the end of a person” (that is, a person’s purpose in life), or “this is for all people.” When Solomon looked at life “under the sun,” everything was fragmented and he could see no pattern. But when he looked at life from God’s point of view “under heaven,” everything came together into one whole. If a person wants to have wholeness, he or she must begin with God.
Life is tough, but it is the gift of God. Life doesn’t get easier if you try to run away from it. All the works that are done “under the sun” never truly satisfy the heart. They are “meaningless.” Both the workaholic and the alcoholic are running away from reality and living on substitutes, and one day the bubble of illusion will burst. We only make life harder when we try to escape. Instead of running away from life, we should run to God and let him make life worth living.
“While still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in the world” (Eccl. 2:3). “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure…. But 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” (Eccl. 2:10-11). If we rejoice in the gifts, but forget the Giver then we are ungrateful idolaters. If we cooperate with God’s timing, life will not be meaningless. Everything will be “beautiful for its own time” (Eccl. 3:11), even the most difficult experiences of life. God is sovereign and has a time and a purpose for everything (Rom. 8:28).
“He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11). “God’s purpose is that people should fear him” (Eccl. 3:14). Life is not in vain if it is lived according to the will of God. So when we live for him and let him have his way, life is meaningful and manageable. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s enjoy what we do have and thank God for it.
Jesus Christ says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). Paul declares, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Is life worth living? Yes, if you are truly alive through faith in Jesus Christ. Then you can be satisfied, no matter what God may permit to come to your life. “Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (1 John 5:12). You can receive life in Christ and–be satisfied!