A truly meaningful life

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gowanda and Trinity Lutheran Church, Silver Creek

It is often talked about whether certain people have lived a meaningful life. The question is often asked by someone who is facing death. It is also a topic of discussion as people talk about someone who has died. In either case, it is too late to make any changes to how they have lived.

After much thought about the subject of living a meaningful life, the wisest man who ever lived shares his thoughts and conclusions with us. That man was King Solomon, and in authoring the Book of Ecclesiasties we are directed to the one way people can have the most meaningful life.

Vanity (meaningless) is the often repeated refrain as Solomon considers various things in life that people often think will give them a meaningful life. Beginning with the idea that “everything is meaningless,” he picks out specific parts of life. The first thing he considers is the one thing for which he is most well known. He says, “I thought to myself, ‘Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ever ruled over Jerusalem before me.'” Contemplating the various aspects of having wisdom he concludes, “but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after wind.” (1:17b) Then, a little later, he says even more about that quality as he compares it with folly: “‘The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?…This too is meaningless.'” (2:15) From wisdom Solomon also considers pleasures, toil, advancement, and riches: things that encourage us to look selfishly to ourselves. Examining all those things of life, it is learned that all reach a common destiny: Lost in death.

Not all that Solomon writes in this book leaves us hopeless. Finding that all those things where we focus on ourselves leave us wanting, there is a source for a happy, fulfilling life. Just as God is the source and giver of life itself, He is also the source that provides us with true meaning and fulfillment in life. All that we may have, enjoy, and/or accomplish in life is not something done by our effort. Seeing God working and giving in our lives is something that is lasting, even into eternity. What comes from God will never be touched by death. It will never be lost. There is meaning for life, even eternal life. “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him.” (3:14)

Learn more about how God gives you a fulfilling, meaningful life. Please visit or contact St. Paul Lutheran Church, Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gowanda (532-4342), or Trinity Lutheran Church, Silver Creek (934-2002).