Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.
Do you get the feeling that someone must have swiped Solomon’s candy when he was a baby? I don’t know about you, but reading Ecclesiastes is sometimes like listening to too many Leonard Cohen songs; you eventually can’t take any more depressing thoughts and you need to get out into the world to enjoy life again.
In this passage, Solomon sounds like so many atheists today: there is no hope, there is no point, and there is no purpose to life. Instead of being magnificently created creatures that are expected to enjoy God’s creative wonders, we are, according to Solomon, destined to become dust. Instead of holding on to the assured hope that Christ has paid the price for our sins and brought us eternal life, we’re all headed to the gloom and doom of oblivion as far as atheists are concerned.
I don’t know about you, but I reject Solomon’s pessimism and atheistic angst. I experienced the Living Christ long ago in my life and I have seen too many faithful, inspiring moments in other peoples’ lives to make me want to throw in the existential towel that Solomon is waving. Life is all about faith, not fads or fashions; it’s all about eternal hope, not hopelessness or helplessness.
Solomon, like Leonard Cohen, might be handy to have around during those moments of loneliness, self-doubt, and morbidity that we all experience, but you wouldn’t expect either of them to be the life and soul of the party when it comes to celebrating our faith in Jesus. He lifts us up with joy and leads us to a higher plane and a greater life than we could ever dream or imagine.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Living Hope for our broken world and the Light of Joy for our inward darkness. You reach into the depths of our souls and transform our weary spirits with Your mercy, grace, and love. Create within us new hearts and help us to reach out to others with our faith. In Your Holy Name, we joyfully pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on this message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.