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One of my favorite books of the Holy Bible is Ecclesiastes. When I’m looking for perspective, when I find myself so fixated on the trees that I can’t see the forest, when I am overwhelmed by the problems of today, I find solace and perspective through the words of Solomon the Teacher.

“Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)

Recounting his experiences through stages of his life, Solomon reminisces as an old man and concludes that all of his life’s experiences were meaningless. Why? Because no matter what you or I do, one day we will all die. It is the nature of life and death is inevitable.

This may sound a little morbid. Why would recognition of my inevitable death bring me peace? It’s because it shows me how life moves through ages and stages. It shows me that whatever is happening today will not be the case in the future. The only true constant is change and whether I will it or not, life will grow and change whether or not I bring myself to a boiling point of stress. It gives me the perspective that I should strive for my best, but not at the expense of myself. What has been will be, in a new form at a new age. It is a recognition of doing what I can. It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: “God, please help me accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Solomon recounts his life stages and pursuits. Indiscretions of youth, chasing after hedonistic pleasures: meaningless! Pleasure fades. Accruing wealth and toiling at your labor, also meaningless. You can’t take it with you. Seeking wisdom versus seeking folly? Meaningless as well, because whether wise or a fool, you’ll still perish.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

There is a purpose for every stage. I think that God leads us to our circumstances for a specific reason. We are meant to be there, for a season. Then circumstances change and God presents new opportunities. We receive a new mission and we move on to that.

I don’t want my words to be misconstrued that I am condoning a lackadaisical work ethic. Not at all. I think that whatever you are doing, give it your all, but stop short of giving yourself. Working yourself to burn out does not help your cause or your mission, whatever it may be. Feeling like you are stuck in an untenable situation does not make it last forever. Circumstances can change. Maybe that feeling of suffocation from stress is really an internal call for you to make a change, or set yourself up for a future change.

I know that many, many people are struggling right now. Teachers are struggling. Parents are struggling. Businesses are struggling. Society is struggling. Students and children are struggling. People from all walks of life are struggling today in ways that were unimaginable a year ago.

I implore everyone reading this to have a little perspective and grace with others. Before berating someone because they didn’t meet your expectations, try to understand where that person is coming from. What stressors are impacting the situation? Extend grace and understanding before criticism and aggression. Understand that yes, COVID-19 has impacted our lives far longer than many of us imagined possible when this crisis first hit. Understand, too, that this will not go on forever. Eventually, life and circumstances will once again change. Find the meaning, even when it all seems meaningless, but keep in mind the long view. This too will change.

“So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 11:10).


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