What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose….All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is what will be; that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-5 and 8-11, NKJV
I’ve recently started the book the Ecclesiastes for my morning devotions. Ecclesiastes is quite depressing in a lot of ways. Its a book about the the futility of mankind, the futility of life and living.
Vanity of vanities. It is all vanity.
Solomon laments the laborious and painful nature of life, how it is fleeting and how in the end we will all return to dust, most of us never to be remembered beyond a generation or two. Nothing we do lasts. Life is finite and futile.
Have I cheered you up yet?
Of course, the book is much more than that. It is really a story about how life without the Living Creator is truly pointless, and how our Creator gives us purpose that promises to ring through eternity. However, as we limp into these final hours before the culmination of what has been the messiest, strangest election of my lifetime this wisdom from the Hebrew Bible stands out to me.
And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said “See, this is new?” It has already been in ancient times before us.
There is much anxiety surrounding what will happen tomorrow. Too much, for my taste. I have been utterly shocked and saddened by how rude and disrespectful this election has made us towards one another. I have been disturbed by how many people have made tomorrow’s election process a matter of life and death for America. I have been disappointed that so many people have decided that the sum total of a friend’s life, love and generosity will be judged by the one name they check on one ballot on one day in their entire lives.
It is tragic and frankly, weak-minded.
I don’t mean to minimize the effect our next President will have on the direction and tone of this country moving forward. I certainly don’t mean to condescend to anyone who feels anxious or frightened about the possibilities.
However, I do feel led to remind all of you that whatever the outcome of tomorrow may be…
…it is all vanity.
In the story of eternity, this period is but a drop, a cell, an atom. Two generations from now this election and all the relationships people allowed to be broken by it will be all but forgotten, relegated to a Buzzfeed listicle (or whatever will be equivalent at that time) every time an election cycle gets a little dramatic or nasty.
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Go into the voting booth tomorrow with concern and discernment, certainly. But do not go with fear. Do not go with angst. Whatever the results of Tuesday may be, we have the comfort in knowing that none of this new. It has all happened before and it will all happen again. Yet humanity continues to grow and move forward. People are born and people die. People are hurt and people love. People will work and people will rest.
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done.
If you woke up on Tuesday morning and got your kids ready for school and went to work, checked the mail – all those mundane tasks of life – you will get up Wednesday morning and do all the same things. Your family will still be your family, you will still say hello to your neighbors or feed your pets. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” will still be on.
Actually, that may be the one man-made thing that does end up being cruelly eternal. That and Cher.
Our lives will go on.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down.
We’ll hate the new president or be relieved for the new president and undoubtedly, barring some global apocalypse there will be another election in four years and another after that and another after that. Even if this election does signal the decline of a great nation, we will not be the first to have seen it, nor will we be the last.
At the end of day – Tuesday, to be exact – we will still be who we are right now in this moment. Neither the President nor the election booth will change that. As we make a huge decision for our country tomorrow, let us all remember that this is not the life and death struggle. That struggle has been waging throughout eternity and will continue to be waged until the day the Lord has seen fit to reconcile it all for good.
Vanity of vanities.
It. Is. All. Vanity.