This Is Man's All

Has your life been rocked this past week? Mine has with the swift and untimely death of my daughter’s childhood friend’s mother from cancer, and a family member’s massive stroke. Our family member remains in ICU, and we are fervently praying for God’s healing touch, but we don’t know what the future holds.

Our bodies are so frail. Even when we exercise, keep our muscles toned, eat “clean” foods, and follow every age-defying regimen out there, death strikes. And for those in the land of the living, it stings like a slap in the face. It jars us, brings us back to reality, and shouts, “Wake up! Life is short.”

Sadly, the longer we live, the more we see that reality. In fact, this morning, I opened Facebook because my daughter tagged me in a memory. She shared a picture of my grandchildren from seven years ago. It was so cute and brought me right back to that night and then returned me to the present.

Seven years flew by in an instant, and a somber emotion followed. My thoughts drifted to the melancholy writing of King Solomon:  “A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”[1]

Although I cannot identify with Solomon in his lavish, unbridled lifestyle, I seem to get what he’s feeling. He wrote words we all have thought at one time or another. He anguishes over the brevity of life, how the hard work of our hands is left to those who come after us.[2] Death, he says, happens to both the righteous and the wicked, the wise and the fool,[3] the rich and the poor.

Even the wisdom and wealth God provided him didn’t help. Solomon despaired in the thought that the way we come into this world, naked and empty-handed, is the same way we leave.[4] We take nothing with us.

In one respect, Solomon is saying what my daughter’s friend said as she eulogized her mother. Jamie spoke of “owning your dash.” The “dash” on your tombstone between your date of birth and death. Bonnie, Jamie’s mom, was a beautiful, kind, generous, loving, and gracious lady, who loved life and lived it to its fullest. She truly owned, earned, and lived her dash, and she will be greatly missed.

Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as an elderly king near the end of his life, yet not by himself. This book, depressing as it is, finds its place among the 66 books of our God-breathed Bible. And, using Solomon’s perspective and mixed emotions, our Lord gives us His Word. He helps us to see life and death through new eyes, and we are not alone in our frustration. Even a king blessed by God with unequaled wisdom and wealth has the same end.

Still, Solomon lived before Jesus walked this earth, before His death, burial, and resurrection. Before Jesus tempered death’s sting,[5] and before we knew Him as our High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses because He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin.[6] Here is the greatness of our God. He fully understands our despair, our pain, our sadness, and our screaming, “Why, God?”

I could tell you sin’s penalty is death, and it’s the cause of all our heartache, but you probably know that. If not, please turn from your sin, believe Jesus, receive your “free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord,”[7] and heed Solomon’s concluding advice:  “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and…before the silver cord is loosed. [Remember] the words given by [your] one [and only] Shepherd. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all.”[8]

[1] Ecclesiastes 3:2, 4
[2] Ecclesiastes 2:14, 18
[3] Ecclesiastes 9:2-3
[4] Ecclesiastes 5:15-16
[5] I Corinthians 15:55-57
[6] Hebrews 4:15
[7] Romans 6:23
[8] Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6, 11-13


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