Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13
It seems that many of our problems have come about as a result of progress. As we’ve tried to build a better world we’ve ended up with all sorts of added burdens. Despite the advantages of dishwashers, antibiotics and pest-resistant crops we also have ozone depletion, nuclear weapons, shrinking natural habitats and carcinogens without number.
The late Bruno Bettelheim remarks: “Never before have so many had it so good; no longer do we tremble in fear of sickness or hunger, of hidden evils in the dark, of the spell of witches. The burden of killing toil has been lifted from us, and machines, not the labour of our hands, will soon provide us with nearly all we need. We have inherited freedoms man has striven after for centuries. Because of all this and much more we should be living in a dawn of great promise. But now that we are freer to enjoy life, we are deeply frustrated in our disappointment that the freedom and comfort, sought with such deep desire, do not give meaning and purpose to our lives.”
Very true. We live in an era of unprecedented prosperity and social progress. Yet the most technologically advanced countries are also the ones most plagued by drug addiction, divorce, suicide, alcoholism, abortion, and increasing crime.
But I’m not surprised. Beyond short term pleasures and shallow thrills, this world has nothing to give. Materialism is a dead end and hedonism is no different. Beneath the surface you discover that no matter what life offers, there’s a certain discontentment, just because it’s ours for the taking.
What can be done? How can we deal with discontentment?
We must acknowledge our limits and subject ourselves to God’s rule. For the meaning of life isn’t in life, it’s outside of it – it’s in the worship of God.
There you have it. The stark solution to disillusionment and discontentment is when we put God first, when we worship the Creator instead of our creation, and when we make the invisible kingdom more important than the visible kingdom. This is the only thing that’s ultimately worthwhile. God must be number One. “The chief end of man is to glorify God.” Which means the facts and fabric of this world cannot be the end of the matter. We must “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.