By Brandon Lemons
Last Sunday, we began a sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes. As I said, Ecclesiastes sounds like it was written on a Monday morning by a philosophy student who got up on the wrong side of the bed. It comes across as cynical. But it’s real. It’s honest. It voices doubts and emotions we may feel in the middle of the night, but that we are hesitant to acknowledge to others, or even to ourselves.
In order to make the most of God’s intent for the book of Ecclesiastes, it’s important to process its themes deeply. A sermon on Sunday, or a brief read-through of a Bible passage, gives initial exposure to the topics. But if we really want to grow – to allow Scripture to do its intended work of teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us (2 Timothy 3:16) – we need to meditate more deeply on the truths of Scripture and the points of the sermons. Therefore, throughout the Ecclesiastes series, I plan to provide questions and topics for reflection and for digging deeper.
I know of at least two factors that might prevent us from going deeper: busyness and fear. We might feel like we are too busy to invest the time necessary to go deeper. Also, we might be afraid of examining what is really going on inside of us, because we are worried about the insecurities, baggage, sin, or doubts we might find. Yet I believe it is worth pushing through these barriers so we will grow in experiencing the meaning and purpose for which God made us.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on some questions based on Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.
Have I ever felt like my life lacks meaning? If so, when did I feel that way? What circumstances were happening that may have contributed to that feeling of meaninglessness?
What is my reaction when I think about how short life is and the fact that I will most likely be forgotten within a few generations of my death?
Ecclesiastes 1:8 describes the weariness we can feel in life, which can result from busyness, stress, prolonged trials, a general dissatisfaction with life, etc. On a scale from 1-10, how energized and joyful is my soul? (1 is “dead tired, ready to give up”, and 10 is “joy-filled, vibrant, free”)
What is the key difference between these two perspectives? (The first is based on Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, and the second reflects a holistic biblical perspective.)
“If our life doesn’t make a lasting difference, is there really any meaning in life?
“Since there is an eternal God, what does He say about the meaning for which He made us?”
If these questions are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.