Posted inForthright Magazine

Tedious and tiresome

Everything is tedious and tiresome, more than one can tell. No eye ever sees enough, and no ear ever gets its fill of hearing. Ecclesiastes 1.8 EHV.

So begins the most frustrated book of the Bible. It ends better than it begins, but we shan’t get ahead of ourselves. If the Professor and author of this book were alive today, he might have shipped out to Tristan da Cunha, as far away as he could go, if he could. But in spite of ourselves, we can’t stop searching for something that satisfies, like the addicts we are.

Modern means of communication and, most recently, the internet, have taken our seeing and hearing to a new level of frustration. The will has withered, the mind has turned to mush, as the dopamine pushes us to scroll, click, and watch.

Useless! Meaningless! What a waste! We stupidly squander time, sap our energies, weaken our relationships, and miss the point of life. I say “stupidly” with precision, and lovingly. There is a lesson to be learned from somebody who has been there and done that. But, no, we insist on figuring it out for ourselves ─ if we ever do.

The ups and downs of Ecclesiastes are tedious and tiresome, too. Almost like a video game with dead ends and violent deaths and sickening dips. But this little adventure of 12 chapters is worth the ride, because it takes us less than an hour to get to the soft, but solid, landing. Much better than 12 years, or 70 twirls around the sun.

I refrain from giving you the Professor’s final words. But here’s a note (with only some formatting tweaks) from the International English Bible as it kicks off the book:

A human life that is not lived in fellowship with God is an empty life, Ecclesiastes 12.13-14. The Book of Ecclesiastes depicts the spiritual pilgrimage of a person who is searching for the true meaning of life. Many seemingly contradictory thoughts arise during one’s question for the common good (summum bonum). Can we solve the riddle of life by simple observation? The answer is not to be found in philosophy. A meaningful and purposeful life is only discovered in total subjection to the will of God.

This tedious and tiresome book will take you somewhere, unlike all the other tedious and tiresome activities you now engage in. What’s to lose, beside your soul?


J. Randal Matheny
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