“C’mon, c’mon” I mumble as I stare intently at the upper left corner of the screen. “Please, please, just one bar.” Searching . . . I raise my right arm, phone out-stretched like Spock’s Tri-corder. I start to walk around the room. Finally, I see, it’s . . . grr . . . “No Service.” Cut off from the network! Abandoned. Isolated. Lost.
Life can feel that way. Searching for answers and just when we think we’re on the edge of connecting, we come up empty. “No Service.” C.S. Lewis said that “human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” If you open the pages of Ecclesiastes, you will find a book loaded with questions and few answers. The book asks the big questions of life. What is this all about? Is this all there is? How do I find meaning in it all? Why do I feel empty? Ecclesiastes asks the questions that the other 65 books of the Bible answer. What’s the answer? Well, hang on; let me first tell you about “the Teacher”.
The Teacher spends 12 agonizing chapters looking for the meaning of life under the sun. This term does not necessarily indicate a secular point of view, but rather refers to the world and to mankind in its current fallen state. In the hope of discovering worth and meaning in life, the Teacher uses his abundant wealth and free time to systematically probe every avenue under the sun. He tirelessly attempts knowledge accumulation (becoming a super nerd), pleasure seeking, wise living, foolish living, justice, injustice and even religion. I know, it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it, right? But in the end, the one who truly had the means to try everything concludes that nothing satisfies. Nothing? Really? Yep, nada.
Across the centuries, countless others have attempted to repeat the experiment of searching . . . examples include the Epicureans and the Hedonists. Epicurus devised a basic guideline of how to live the happiest life possible: “Don’t fear god, don’t worry about death, what is good is easy to get, and what is terrible is easy to endure.” I believe they later shortened it to “don’t worry, be happy.” Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates, developed Ethical Hedonism which puts forth the idea that sensual pleasure is the highest good. Neither camp appears to have stumbled across Ecclesiastes where the Teacher debunks both in one fell swoop: “I kept my heart from no pleasure . . . and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecc. 2:1-11)
There must be an answer. The Teacher says that God “has put eternity into man’s heart (in the sense that life continues beyond this present existence), yet so that he cannot find out (meaning to figure out, or comprehend by study) what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecc. 3:11b) For the teacher, the answer itself was a mystery yet to be unveiled.
Many years later, the apostle Paul writes to a church in the city of Ephesus: “[God is] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph. 1:9-10) Paul also writes to the churches in Galatia: “but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal. 4:4-7)
That is good news! My identity and worth is no longer in what I do, but rather in what Jesus has done for me! All the things that I was searching for under the sun such as worth, acceptance, joy, and meaning, are now mine through faith in Jesus. “But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) The search is over. The answer is Jesus.