Most people think I’m strange when I tell them that I love the book of Ecclesiastes. Many consider it full of despair and strange sayings about how meaningless life can feel. I don’t feel that way at all. I find the book full of hope. It puts me into a pleasant mood.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing. (Eccles. 1:2–3, 8)
Contemplating the fleeting experience of time, hearing the laments of a wise old man, and considering the monotony of everyday life comforts me. Ecclesiastes comforts the soul. Here are three ways Ecclesiastes can help your soul find comfort.
1. Ecclesiastes is realistic.
Ecclesiastes is wonderful because it doesn’t lie about life. Ecclesiastes forces you to boldly face the ugliness, the dullness, and the outrage of this world. I have met too many Christians who had this crazy idea that life is easy. Ecclesiastes will not let you lie to yourself. You will encounter meaninglessness and chaos. You will feel the years that have passed you by. You will encounter the pain of death. You will feel the sameness and dullness of your job. Ecclesiastes is realistic.
2. Ecclesiastes prepares your heart for hope.
After the Preacher wrestles you to the ground, he tears off the mask of self-deluded merriment like a lucha libre (a masked wrestler known for acrobatics) desiring to expose the face of his opponent before a crowd. Only here can you can realize that Jesus experienced all the suffering and temptation that you do, yet without sin:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
3. Ecclesiastes leads you by the hand toward wisdom.
The truth of Jesus Christ—crucified, dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father for salvation—displays God’s wisdom. If you trust in Jesus, then “because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Ecclesiastes leads you to see that, in Christ, God saves you from meaninglessness and saves you to everlasting purposeful life with God. Ecclesiastes leads you to consider life from an eternal perspective.
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