When life seems pointless
This past week we learned of two people by society's standards had it all, but tragically took their own lives out of a hopelessness and pointlessness. As details are beginning to circulate around Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain's untimely deaths we are learning more just how desperate their lives really were.
I’m surprised more people don’t commit suicide.
Looking at life from a Christless perspective…the viewpoint from which most of the world operates…suicide makes a lot of sense. It’s amazing that more people don’t opt for it.
Think about it: We’re made for eternity. Christians know this, but even unbelievers sense it. It’s the image of God—the spirituality of man—yearning for something more than this world has to offer. No matter where the unbeliever looks, he eventually finds himself singing the same old tune: I can’t get no satisfaction.
Even those blessed with material prosperity find that life is more pain than pleasure.
So all unbelievers everywhere live their lives in varying degrees of despair. Many search for relief all their lives, never to find it. Others give up after a time to ride out their lives enslaved to whatever addiction dulls the pain. The broad road most people travel leads to destruction, and in their hearts they know it.
So I suggest that suicide is a logical alternative. Who wants to endure a slow and painful death? Can you imagine 70 or 80 years of Christless living? The pain must be indescribable. Wouldn’t it be much better to get it over with quickly? Besides, the verdict is in on money, sex, and power…we know they don’t satisfy. But what if death does? Many have suggested that death is all love and light, warmth and peace. That sounds a lot better than the hell most people live in, doesn’t it?
Yet by the grace of God, most people hang in there—which is good because there is one other option: The God-centered life we receive through Christ. It is the only alternative to the despair of every other path. The God-centered life still comes with it’s share of pain; but it also comes with a promise of relief. It’s still difficult; but it’s also purposeful.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us of this important fact. Without God, living from event to event and season to season is an impossible burden. It’s all pointless. But when God is acknowledged as the mover behind the ebb and flow of life, a point is found.
Ecclesiastes 3 contrasts two perspectives on life. One is God-centered and one is God-less. The key is for God-centered people—Christians—to choose the God-centered perspective. Many operate from godless principles…we sometimes call them practicing atheists…they claim faith but don’t live it.
Are You Pointless or Pointed?
The Pointless Life
BORING—Ecclesiastes 3 contains 14 pairs of words that describe the seasons of life. Without God bringing purpose to these, life becomes BORING! (Maybe you got bored just reading these things and skimmed to verse 9…see what I mean?) If life is just an endless flow of stuff, what’s the point?
BANKRUPT—Verse 9 contains a question: What does the worker gain from his toil? The answer is obvious so it’s left unsaid: NOTHING! That is, he gains nothing if he just goes about his business without an eternal perspective and eternal purpose behind his work. You can put in your time and make a lot of money, but you’ll still end up bankrupt spiritually.
BITTER—Verse 10 observes, “I have seen the burden God has laid on men.” The burden is this: God lays before us a seemingly endless series of events and experiences to live through. And if we don’t have an eternal, God-centered perspective we can’t find the point of it all. That leads to despair and bitterness. We go through life trying to “get a life!”
The Pointed Life
The life the Lord gives is not pointless, it’s “pointed.” That is, it has a point because it is pointed in a certain direction: eternity. God uses the temporary stuff of life to build our thirst for heaven. At the same time, he enables us to find at least some degree of happiness and satisfaction in this life too.
BALANCE—Instead of describing boredom, the 14 pairs of words in Ecclesiastes 3 show the balance of life in the Lord. There are at least 28 complimentary seasons in the Christian’s life. That’s not boring, it’s exciting! There’s always something new and meaningful on the horizon…an event or experience God will use to build his kingdom in and through us.
BEAUTY—Verse 11 holds a great promise: Every season and event will prove beautiful in time. Notice that the list includes death, weeping, mourning, hate, and war. Only God can transform such powerful, negative events into things of beauty in the lives of his people. And he does it all the time. Mature believers often tell how the most excruciating experiences in their past have proved invaluable in accomplishing God’s good purposes for them.
BLESSING—Notice the contrast between verses 9-10 and 12-13. In the pointless life, there is nothing to gain, only an incredible burden to bear. In the “pointed” life there is happiness to experience and good to do. We can eat and drink and find satisfaction in life. There’s no greater blessing than that. It is a gift of God that makes this long and difficult life bearable.