Life under the Sun

The Lord remembered [Hannah].
–1 Samuel 1:19

Everything we have, everything we achieve, will someday be left behind when we die. Jesus talked about that reality in Luke 12:16-21. He told a parable of a rich man whose land was very productive. The man thought, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” (v. 17). So he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry’” (v. 18-19). He had spent his life accumulating wealth, and he decided he had got enough that he didn’t have to do anything except enjoy himself in retirement. What did God say to him? “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you” (v. 20). That word “required” is a banking term that means “to call in a loan.” God was going to call in the loan of his life. “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (v. 21). It doesn’t matter what treasure you’re spending your life to acquire–pleasure, wisdom, or wealth–Solomon and Jesus both affirmed the idiocy of trading the eternal for the temporal.

After this journey, Solomon concluded that wisdom is futile, pleasure is vain, work is meaningless, life is short, and death is certain. That’s why he said and over again, “Life under the sun is meaningless.” The key is “under the sun.” That’s a phrase Solomon used twenty-nine times. It refers to life from a horizontal perspective. If we look at what is around us instead of looking up, life does seem meaningless. But there is another way: to look at life above the sun. Have you ever taken off in an airplane when it was dark and raining, yet as the plane goes upward, as soon as you get above the clouds, everything is sunshine? Both realities are true. On earth, it is dark and gloomy. Above the clouds, it is sunshine. The first eleven chapters of Ecclesiastes focus on the meaninglessness of life under the sun. But in chapter 12, Solomon gave the “above the sun” view. In Ecclesiastes 12:1, Solomon gave the key to finding meaning in life: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’” That word “remember” doesn’t mean just to call to mind: “Oh, I remember God. I’d forgotten Him for a while, but now I remember Him.” No, the key to that word is understanding its use in 1 Samuel 1. In this passage, Hannah prayed that God would give her a child, and finally God answered her and gave her a son named Samuel. In 1 Samuel 1:19, we read, “The Lord remembered her.” It’s not that God had forgotten about Hannah. To remember means “to act decisively toward.” God acted decisively for the benefit of Hannah, and for us to “remember” God means for us to act decisively in our relationship with God. It means for us to put God first. Solomon said that the most important choice we can make is to build our lives around God. God is the only one capable of giving us the right perspective of life and eternity.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Companionship over Loneliness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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