Archive | March, 2011

Life is vapour

11 Mar

Ecc 1:2 – “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Last Saturday I attended a wedding in the morning. Later that afternoon I attended a funeral. I would never have imagined that these two diametrically opposed events would happen on the same day, but they did.

I had to ask God why it happened this way. But having them both on the same day got me to look at my own life from a more objective point of view – soon I’ll be that groom getting married to my bride, taking photos with friends and creating memories. By the same token, I will also eventually pass on from this world and have friends and family gathered to say goodbye to me, temporary as it may be.

That’s when the Ecclesiastes verse came to mind – “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless”. So I thought, “What’s the point? If everything I do in this life is meaningless, then why bother, why care about anything?” And I was kind of bothered. To someone else I would just be that young guy who’s fallen in love, to someone else I would just be another name on the funeral director’s running sheet.

While the author of Ecclesiastes says that everything in life is “meaningless”, is he saying that our lives mean nothing? Is he saying that no matter what joy or sorrow we experience, it’s futile? Actually, the Hebrew word translated is “hebel” which literally means “vapour” and gives a better description of what the author is trying to say. Our lives aren’t so much meaningless, but really it means that our lives are fleeting and momentary. Life is short so make the most of it.

This proper understanding of the verse got me to see that while seemingly different, the wedding and funeral were actually not too dissimilar – they are both temporal events in a temporal life. One day you go to school, before you know it you’re in University. Soon after you might get married and have a few kids. In no time your back pain is getting worse and you’re finding it hard to remember things. I can say from personal experience that the speed of life when you’re 28 is much quicker than the speed of life when you’re 21. Life is short so make the most of it.

This week I was listening to the song by Switchfoot called “This is Home” ( and it really hammered home the point that God had been trying to teach me this past week – that by accepting Jesus, we’re now called children of God and have his inheritance, including his home which is much, much more glorious than the brief time we have here on earth. So while we enjoy beautiful weddings, while we are moved by touching eulogies, God’s plan for us is not to see events in our lives as the be all and end all, but to appreciate them in the context of a very temporary life. Life is short, so make the most of it.

So let’s recognise that while God has blessed us on this earth, it is only for a very short time. We need to make the most of it by concentrating on the things of God and remembering what the glimpse of our real home in heaven is like.

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