Skip to main content

‘“Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’”

The book of Ecclesiastes opens with this powerful statement. Written by an old king reflecting on the end of his life, Ecclesiastes ponders the meaning and purpose of life. As a church we have been studying this book in our small groups, and although somber at times, I have found it to be a book that brings much joy and hope as we look forward to eternity with Christ. I have appreciated hearing how Ecclesiastes impacts people across different ages and life stages and think you will enjoy hearing how this book has impacted Jess, a college student:

As a church, we have been studying Ecclesiastes. It has been such a joy to study so far, and I have felt my heart changing as I’ve read it. One of the ways I have felt my heart change is that I have begun to ponder the purpose of my school work. I study for many hours a day, yet at some point, all my studying will fade away and matter no more. There have been moments this semester where I even began to wonder why I am still in school. If it is all vanity, then why continue on? Questions like this are what the book of Ecclesiastes challenges us to wrestle with. And while at times I ponder about the purpose and meaning of my studies, I am reminded of an encouraging conversation I had with a wise woman last year. 

This woman reminded me that there is purpose to my education. Even if the lessons are completely unrelated to the subject matter I am studying, I am still learning. I am learning skills like public speaking, writing, and careful reading. I am learning how to work diligently, set boundaries so that school is not an idol in my life, and trust in God to provide the time needed in my days so that I can finish the many tasks I need to accomplish. 

All these lessons are valuable. They have value within my education, but they also have value in my life outside of school. Ultimately, what this wise woman from church encouraged me in was that there is purpose in my education, even when it can be hard to see. 

And it was hard to see at the time. At the time, I was often comparing myself to others, seeing the purpose in their life but not my own. This isn’t how God wants us to live. He wants us to live with purpose. He wants us to live for HIS purpose. So what is his purpose?
It can be found clearly in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Simply put, our purpose is to love God and make him known. If I rely on my work to give me purpose, I will be left disappointed. If I rely on God for purpose, however, then I will have joy and peace that surpass understanding even in the most difficult of circumstances. The most fruitful and rewarding thing we can do is live our lives as to bring God glory. 

When I shifted my view to living for God in my education, I began to see new ways that God was growing my faith in my schooling. I began to have a new resolve to continue and I was more satisfied to live each day, knowing that while my education will one day fade away, bringing glory to God’s name will stand forever. I began to see the lessons I was learning in school were valuable for growing in my faith and encouraging others to do the same. 

So live with the purpose to glorify God. No matter if your day is full of mundane tasks or chances to help save lives, remember that our real purpose is to live for God’s glory. 

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
Colossians 1:16

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

“For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Romans 9:17