Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year devotion: Year's End - Ecclesiastes 2:17

Ecclesiastes 2:17         So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

            There was a time when I hated my life so much that I just wanted to end it all. Happily, three friends rescued me and I have enjoyed a lot of the last forty years since that dark time. This doesn’t mean that I’m not subject to anxious, troublesome, or depressing moments; like most human beings, I have my up and down times. However, even in a bad year like 2015, I have experienced some sweet and successful moments. The good does outweigh the bad; my joy for life overcomes the pain I have experienced.

            I get the feeling that the writer of Ecclesiastes must have been given practically everything to him on a silver plate. I don’t think he ever knew what hunger, poverty, trouble or pain really were. His observations come across as someone who has too much time on his hands, who never really worked for a living, or who was largely unaware of the struggles that most folks endure. He is like a rich monarch or a pampered celebrity; he fusses a lot when things don’t go his own way. He berates Life because it hasn’t lived up to his expectations.

            I contrast this with the coming of Christ into the world. He has all the privileges, power, and riches of Heaven, and yet He ends up being born to working class parents, in a borrowed barn, lying in a feeding trough. If Jesus had been like the writer of Ecclesiastes, He would have come to Earth on a golden chariot, accompanied by thousands of angels, displaying all of God’s mightiness, power, and sovereignty.

            But Jesus became like us to identify with our struggle, our grasp of reality, as well as our share of pain, toil, and trouble. And because He did this, Christ not only completely understands our hardships, setbacks, and problems, He also wants to rescue us from them for all of eternity.

            So today, let’s embrace this thought: Life isn’t meaningless with Christ – He has a purpose – all we have to do is to accept that we are part of His wonderful plan.

Questions for personal reflection

As I look back over 2015, what problems, struggles, and troubles did I experience? How did Jesus help me to endure, overcome, and learn from them? What do I hope He will help accomplish in 2016?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You walk with us each day and share our struggles and storms. Be near to us at the end of this year, and go before us into 2016. Help us to turn to You constantly for guidance and encouragement, strength and love. In Your Holy Name, we walk and pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to respond to today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s 2015 nativity drawings. It’s called “Mama’s Boy.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Boy.

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