by Elizabeth Stone
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11
I've been reading Ecclesiastes and Solomon was experiencing some severe depression. There is this sense of futility to the opening chapters, but by the end of the book he has worked through a lot of his issues. You have to read the whole book to get the picture, but it is oh so easy - especially for those of us who have lived awhile - to look back on the years and feel the same sense of vanity and uselessness, of not having done enough or not having fulfilled dreams and aspirations. Ecclesiastes asks the questions - good questions - that all humans face. "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky. . ." John Lennon posited the same questions in his lyrics, but the problem is, with no religion, no faith, no eternity, there is also no hope. If we have no expectation of life after death, no expectation of grace and forgiveness, no conviction that God will put all things right, and the brokenness of the world will never be healed, it makes for a sad depressing life. Solomon of all people had it all: power, wealth, education, wisdom, accomplishments, luxury, love, glory, etc., and yet with all the best the world has to offer, he hits a mid-life crisis, or maybe a late in life crisis, and asks all the right questions. What is the use of all our human endeavors if we just return to dust?
The answer: right here in chapter 3 Solomon realizes that not only does everything (and everyone) have seasons of beauty that God gives, but eternity is in our minds. We have the capability of imagining that there is a Heaven, and that there is a time when all the problems of the world, all the sin, and misery, the devil's work, and even death will all end and we will live in eternity with God. This perfection that we can clearly grasp with our limited imperfect minds is evidence that we are created for immortality. Solomon didn't get to see it, but he had enough wisdom to ask the right questions. And we, living in post-resurrection times, know that the answer is: Jesus. Because of Christ the door to Heaven stands open for anyone who wishes to go through, for anyone who will lay hold of His salvation. Solomon asked the question, Jesus is the resounding answer. John Lennon makes the point for us: it actually takes some effort to imagine that there is no Heaven, because we were made for eternity, we were made to believe in God. Created in God's image, our minds and souls naturally understand eternity, and yearn for it. And God also yearns jealously for our spirits as well, because He has made a way for us to spend it with Him. The light of eternity shining on us now makes the blessings of life sweeter, the suffering easier to bear, and the promise of life eternal gives us all the hope we need.
The butterfly has a season of being a wriggly caterpillar, but eventually it has a season of being a beautiful butterfly. Sometimes it takes longer than we wish for things to turn out right, and a season of beauty to begin. But after all the ups and downs of life, eventually, like the butterfly, we will be permanently changed into something beautiful, something glorious, an eternal soul in shining glory. And we will be reunited with our God who made us with this concept of an eternity, beckoning us to our Heavenly home.