Does Life Make Sense, or Is Everything Really Meaningless?
Writing about the book of Proverbs, Eugene Peterson says that wisdom is “the art of living skillfully.” In 1 Corinthians 14:33, Paul tells us that our God is not a God of disorder but of peace. Therefore, life should be as simple as figuring out steps one, two, and three and doing them, right? Shouldn’t the outcome of righteous actions be entirely predictable?
Like it or not, life often feels a bit chaotic and subject to random chance. Too many times even Christians find themselves asking questions like “What in the world is going on? Is there purpose and order to anything in life? Or is everything actually meaningless?”
King Solomon was the principal writer of Proverbs, a veritable guide to daily living. Scripture tells us that Solomon’s wealth and wisdom were unsurpassed in the ancient world and that foreign dignitaries traveled great distances just to speak with him and hear his counsel (1 Kings 4:34). During his reign, the nation of Israel reached its pinnacle spiritually, politically, culturally, and economically. Surely if any man knew the secret to life and happiness it was Solomon.
On the other hand, according to tradition, Solomon was an old man when he wrote Ecclesiastes. In this book, he seems to question the very meaning of life and wonders if there’s a point to it all. Here the wise old king raises three main concerns. The first of these is the role of chance in our lives. For example, the race isn’t always won by the fastest runner (Ecclesiastes 9:11). We can live wisely, work hard, and do our best, and yet still have no control over the outcome. In other words, a person can do all the right things, and still, all the wrong things might happen.
The second issue that worries Solomon is time. “Time and chance happen to [us] all,” he says (Ecclesiastes 9:11). You’ve heard it said that time marches on, never stopping to take a break. Indeed, time erases everything. We don’t really care about those who came before us, and within a couple of generations, no one will care too much about us. We are like the grass and flowers that wither and fade away (Psalm 103:15), a mist that is here for a moment and quickly vanishes (James 4:14). Yet, we were made for eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It’s hard-wired in our hearts.
Solomon’s third concern is death. Death is the great equalizer, a reality that every one of us must face (Ecclesiastes 9:1–6). No one can escape this eventuality, so how will we face this fact? With fear? With courage? Is there any knowledge or wisdom that can help us prepare for the inevitable?
Is it any wonder then that life sometimes feels so pointless, so meaningless?
Let this question prod and push you to someplace better. Let the brokenness and confusion of the world increase your dependence on God. It’s true that you cannot control the good or the bad that happens. You can’t outwit chance, you can’t outrun time, and you can’t outlive death. So let this knowledge generate in you a righteous fear of the sovereign God who knows all things and shepherds all things for all time.
In the words of the apostle Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Therefore, your life will have meaning when you are living for Christ and seeking Him first.
Dear Father in heaven – Life is hard. I try to live according to the wise principles found in Proverbs. But the world doesn’t always cooperate. Life throws me curveballs, and sometimes logic and meaning seem to get thrown out the window. I desperately need you and your strength to carry on. Help me to trust in you, to stand strong, to make sense of it all. Help me to trust you come rain or sunshine, whether I’m walking on smooth paths or rocky trails. I believe that you are in control. Increase my ability to live by faith. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, God, based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path, an ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.