Way before COVID-19 messed with our way of life, King Solomon looked at everything “under the sun” and said that it was all hevel, which is a Hebrew word that means “mist,” or “vapor,” (often translated as “meaningless”). That means that the richest, wisest, and most successful king in Israel’s history saw the things of this world as a fleeting vapor. He said that all our striving is like “chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
The pandemic has proved him right. So many things that had value and significance in 2019 are worthless in 2020. Faced with this reality, I’ve been tempted to give up. I’ve wondered if Buddha was right, that maybe we should just “extinguish our desires.” Then we wouldn’t be so disappointed when something else in this world changes, fades, or even fails.
But Solomon came to a different conclusion, a healthier one. He said: “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-14).
In other words, Solomon says that we should enjoy our work and its results as a gift of God. We should recognize that, yes, the things of this world and all that we accomplish are passing, but the God who gives it all is eternal.
That means we don’t need to fight against the lessons that 2020 is teaching us, namely, that the world and everything in it is fleeting. We can enjoy the brief time that we have on this earth as a gift of God. We can leverage all of our passing moments for God and his eternal kingdom. We don’t need to be overwhelmed when the world keeps changing and things we used to treasure pass away. We know that what really matters will last into the age to come.
So here is how I’m trying to live in the wisdom of King Solomon.
I’m trying to enjoy God’s gift of nature. Here is a picture of the sunrise that shined the glory of God for a few minutes.
I’m trying to enjoy God’s temporary gift of good food and family, savoring both the flavors and the conversation.
I’m trying to meditate more on the gift of God’s eternal Word and less on the transitory news in the moment.
This world, both the good and the bad, is temporary and quickly passing. That’s actually a liberating idea. When we see all the bad that is happening, we can remember: This too shall pass. And when we experience moments of joy and blessing, we can remember that this will one day be our eternal reality in the new heavens and new earth.
This is the transitory moment the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in him.