Bible Society of South Africa

Absolutely Alive: What is the Point? - 1 July 2024

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

2It is useless, useless, said the Philosopher. Life is useless, all useless.

Ecclesiastes 1:2GNBOpen in Bible reader

People have contemplated the meaning of life since ancient times. We still do today, often searching for insights into dealing with life’s challenges through the wisdom of ancient philosophers or eastern religions. Inspiring art, sculpture, literature and dialogue also contribute in this exploration, while countless self-help books and podcasts invite seekers to open them to equip themselves to live holistic, successful lives.

Logically, we could turn to where life began for this help. It wouldn’t be a ‘quick fix’, but it will be the truth. In the Bible God has provided his ultimate wisdom through varied disciplines for us to understand life, which inevitably reveals him to us.

I confess, as a young person, I was quite shocked to come across the book of Ecclesiastes, and waded through Solomon’s experiences, common in our world, with ever-widening eyes. I couldn’t believe that this pessimistic stance could belong in the Bible – especially after admiring chapter 3, which expressed God’s perfect timing for all people so eloquently.

Yet many years later, I treasure this book as the one that still speaks into life today, and grounds its readers in far greater depth of understanding than any other. It addresses the sense of purposelessness that prevails in many peoples’ lives the world over, revealing their dull experiences and lack of joy. We may see this in our own circle or experience it ourselves.

Solomon’s search for meaning through his own efforts was futile as he experienced a joyless emptiness in spite of his amazing achievements and great wealth: “You spend your life working, labouring and what do you have to show for it? Generations come and generations go, but the world stays just the same. The sun still rises and it still goes down, going wearily back to where it must start all over again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-5, GNT)

Solomon’s obsessive pursuit of happiness through pleasure blinded him to the good things that God had created for mankind’s pleasure: the joyful beauty of the sunrise, the innocence and sparkle of children, the privilege of having work for his hands to do; all this made him take for granted the delight, meaning and purpose in the countless everyday things that God pronounced good.

Perhaps we, too, lose focus and forget that God intended life as a gift for us to live abundantly with him, not a weight to carry alone as a terminal existence.

This month let’s explore being ‘Absolutely Alive’ by opening our hearts and minds to where life started – in God’s heart – and ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us each day to grow in our understanding of the gift of Life, and rejoice in our purpose on earth. Remember, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Prayer: “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Through the lips of children and infants you have established a stronghold …” (Psalm 8:1-2a) “May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalms 33:22) Amen

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