Summary: Life is not meaningless, we gain meaning in life through the person of Jesus Christ.
In college one of the jobs I had was working in a medical file warehouse. Talk about mundane, boring, monotonous. These were huge warehouses that contained millions of files from hospitals all over the San Francisco Bay Area. I did one of three things: I pulled a file for a patient in a hospital somewhere; I put the patient’s file back after the hospital was done with it; I threw out the file when the hospital asked for it to be purged. If you know your ABC’s, you too could do this job.
Each warehouse had rows and rows of files reaching over 20 feet high. It was a very quiet job. The many files in these warehouses super insulated the sound so that if person was more than one row away – you couldn’t hear them. If there was another person in one of these vast places, unless they were in your line of sight, you would have no idea they were even there. It was as if you were completely alone. There was absolute silence.
There were no windows, there were no skylights – just millions and millions of files. It was very difficult to keep track of time, it was very difficult to stay focused. I could be filing for six hours but think only two hours had gone by.
Most people would last about two weeks, and then they would quit, usually out of exasperation and many would just leave during the day and never come back. They would just lose it.
I guess they would just get to a point and see how meaningless the job was. It didn’t matter how fast one could file, there were always more files. After putting away ten boxes of files the shelves looked exactly the same as when one started. One could work at a feverish pace and it hardly made much of a difference.
If I take this file out, it is only coming back. If I put this file away, it is only coming out again. At the end of the day, it was meaningless.
Our Scripture from Ecclesiastes sums up that job at the medical file warehouse: Eccl. 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;”
Here we are at the end of a year, starting another year, and we could ask – what’s the point? We achieve this, we pay off that, we manage these perfectly, we realize what we have hoped for – but in the end, does it matter? Further, in this life we can lose what we have fought for, lose what we have worked for, lose what we have loved, and during those times life can look meaningless.
The British Humanist Association has caused a ruckus in England by running a campaign this Christmas on London buses with the message: "There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Isn’t that a form of Nihilism? The rejection of religious morality and the belief that life is meaningless.
Enjoy my life! To what end?
When I was a college kid in the San Francisco Bay Area I would drive down with my friends to Disneyland at least once a year. We would leave late Friday night and take turns driving and sleeping during the eight hour drive. We would arrive in town early, have breakfast at Denny’s and be at the gate at 8:00 A.M. just as Disneyland opened.
We would be so excited and once we were through the gate we would run to our favorite ride, maybe ‘Space Mountain’ or ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, but we ran like our lives depended on it. Then, we ran from ride to ride until the late night closing, spent the night in a cheap motel, and then we would be at the gates Sunday morning just as Disneyland opened once again. (Yes, we would skip church that day) Again we would run to our favorite ride first and then run from ride to ride all day…..and then about 4:00 P.M. it would kick in, Eccl. 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again”.
The Pirates or the Caribbean weren’t pirates anymore, they were animatronics mannequins; ‘The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House’ wasn’t a fantastic tree fort, it was just a cement tree; ‘Space Mountain’ wasn’t a scary rocket ship anymore for we saw the tracks the cars ran on and it was just a rollercoaster in the dark; Oh, and ‘It’s A Small World’ – we couldn’t go near that relentless song, it became merciless upon our ears….What was so exciting just a few hours before had become dull; What initially had given us great joy now lacked any meaning.
We see the meaning in our lives slipping away at times, even things we look forward to can become meaningless. Here in our Scripture this morning we are told everything we do is ultimately, meaningless. It is very Nihilistic in thought isn’t it? Now, I’ve said this many times before, the bible is a very practical book. So what we have here in this Scripture is not impractical thought. Most certainly we have here is very helpful and very practical. For you know - Nihilism is not practical.