“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”
Have you heard this verse from Ecclesiastes before? On the surface it’s always seemed to be to be pretty depressing, not something that I would expect to see in the bible. When I read it without context all I can think is, “Nothing matters anyway.”
So is that really what the Bible is saying? I don’t think so…
Nothing in the Bible can be separated from its entirety. Only when we consider the entire library that it is does the story make sense. Jesus is foreshadowed all over the Old Testament. We know that God cares about us and He desires us to know, love, and serve Him, so how can that truth inform this reading?
“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, ‘See, this is new!’ has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.”
When I read this bit of the passage, I’m tempted to throw in the towel once again. Doesn’t it say that what I do doesn’t matter anyway!? No, I think the Lord is actually saying something very generous and merciful here.
The weight of the world does not lie on our shoulders. We are not the ones who make the world turn. God is the true actor on the world stage, we simply participate in His show. God is humbling us, helping us realize this truth. We can’t bear the weight of the world. We’d be crushed. We can hardly bear the weight of our own crosses without being crushed. Jesus doesn’t want us to get crushed! In order to do so we need to remember that we are not that important. It seems harsh! It does! And that doesn’t change the fact that you are the apple of God’s eye. You are the most important person in the world to Him, but as far as what we do, as far as the sun rising and setting, as far as the wind blowing and the rivers flowing, we are not that important. The world depends on God, not us. The salvation of souls depends on God, not us.
It is that way that “all things are vanity.” God desires to use us, but God doesn’t need us. God desires to be glorified by and through us, but He doesn’t need it. The world will keep turning with or without us. It turned before we arrived, and it will turn after we die. That’s something we should rejoice about! Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to handle that crushing responsibility.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization