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 people will fear him.
The thing you learn about life as you grow older is that it only gets faster.
And with its pace comes the senses of “where did the time go? and what have I accomplished?” The crisis of our mid lives can surprise us when the pace has overcome us and the culmination of our lasting contributions are scant.
They will remain scant as long as we are human.
It is strangeness and cursedness of humans to labor and toil cyclically to the ends of only survival until we meet our death bed. Our hopes for significance is bound in any of our critical attempts of permanent contribution before we fade, but alas, our humanness, our powerlessness, the context in which we are stuck in, give us only scratches against the mountain of change.
It is this exasperation that the writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of. His greatest lament is the meaningless of his life’s toil. Everything he does, he proclaims, will end up in the hands of perhaps a foolish one. What point is there, therefore, in the toil of humans?
It is at this juncture that he declares something wonderful. He looks upward and sees The Great Worker.
Everything that Yahweh does, he declares, “will endure forever”. And Yahweh does it “so that people will fear him.”
They will fear him because the only hope of lasting work in this world is partnership with this Great Worker. For all our labors in life, in ministry, in service, one can be comforted in this truth: that God can do more in a moment than we can in a lifetime.
We can toil and labor and toil and labor, but when God shows up in our work, there the lasting effect is given. He gives permanence to our work, meaning to our lives, and the power to our contribution.
I am, in this moment, humbled by my humanness, shocked by the pace at which life passes me, and am tempted to be disillusioned by my scant contributions when I reach the finish line of life.
But also I am given hope because I too can look upward at the Great Worker, and know that he can and will give permanence to my labor. That if I pray the prayer of Moses, he will answer it.
“Lord, establish the work of our hands, yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90).