If everyone’s life has meaning, why does life often feel chaotic, fast-paced, and empty? When these feelings come, you and I can begin to ask: what’s the point? Why bother? We live. We work. We die. Is that all there is to life?
Coming to terms with our feelings is important. There is something true about our experience. We wake up early, work all day, go home, and do it again. Nothing really changes. Very little seems to last. There is a lot of ugliness to life: death, disease, and destruction. The news is filled with stories that remind us of the presence of evil in this world, from sex trafficking to terrorism. And if that isn’t enough, the everyday monotony of life is able to drive us to despair with the feelings of insignificance. This is a real part of human experience. It’s one side of the story, one side of a very real story.
God’s Lasting Work
The teacher of Ecclesiastes describes life in very mundane terms yet, he also gives a different perspective. He explains that despite how it feels, God has made life beautiful:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man. (Eccles. 3:11-13)
There are many great things about life: love, family, friendship, and art are just a few that come to mind. These are the things we experience every day, but we often miss their goodness. We forget that God has blessed us. We forget that God is good. We forget that much of our days are spent among people, people we care about, people we love, people we serve, people who need, people who love us. But we forget something even more important.
We forget that Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that he can put an end to everything that is ugly about the world. Jesus came and took upon himself the guilt and shame of sin. His life was one of service and love—beauty was displayed through his kindness and mercy to the sick, the oppressed, the poor, and the sinful. Everything Jesus did was beautiful, yet he was made ugly through scourging and crucifixion. He took the world's ugliness upon his shoulders as he carried a wooden cross, an instrument of execution, to the place of his death. Raised upon a cross, crowned with a crown of thorns, Jesus was exalted as king of the Jews in mockery.
At the moment when Jesus' life seemed least meaningful, and most disgusting, he was making all things new. Through death, Jesus brings a new creation and new significance to everything we do: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Through faith in Jesus, we “are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
Because of what Jesus did, is doing, and will do as he reigns as king, we can have confidence that God is making use of everything we do for his glory and our good. As Christians, we have a taste of eternity in the present. We can see past the hostility that surrounds us, the injustice that consumes us, and the hatred that still abides within our hearts. Through faith in what God has promised, we can begin to see what God is already doing—saving the world and making all things new.
Our Humble Service
The temptation of life is not to allow God to be God. We want to understand everything. We want to know how our lives make a difference. That is God’s business. Our business is to trust that God is at work in the ordinary stuff of life. Our job is simple: embrace the week-to-week. Consider your most boring, daily task as God-given.
Finally, everything you do in faith and obedience to what God commands is worthy of your efforts. There is good news for all your work—God has promised to work through the ordinary, mundane aspects of your everyday life. You are a part of God’s orchestra. You and I may play a small part, and we can often miss hearing the music under the pressure to keep up with the rest of the orchestra, but nevertheless our work—our humble melody—is part of God’s glorious symphony we call life and it is as beautiful to watch as it is to hear. Jesus is the star performer. He has a major part to play and, as King over a new creation, he has promised to make the world good and beautiful. It is happening now in every little thing we do. Can you hear the music? It is praises to our God. Your life is beautiful because with it you worship the God who loves you and gave himself for you.