Some mornings, I still instinctively reach over to the dresser beside my bed in search of my glasses. My hand fumbles its way across my keys, wallet, and phone before I realize there are no frames to be found. Four years ago, I had LASIK eye surgery, which eliminated my need for corrective lenses. But in those moments between asleep and awake, I sometimes forget. You see, from the time I was nine months old until the morning of my surgery, I wore glasses. Every day. Without them, the world was a blurry, headache-inducing mess. Still, it can be difficult to adjust to a new way of seeing the world.
Here at the end of Ecclesiastes, we are invited into a new way of seeing. Up until this point, everything has been viewed from a perspective trapped “under the sun,” a phrase used twenty-seven times in the book. But there is another view: God’s vantage from above the sun. He is the only one who can “declare the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), whose ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8–9), and who “will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Though on our own we would stumble around this world with a limited perspective, God’s Word gives us a pair of lenses to see the world as He does. That’s why reading Ecclesiastes can be so disheartening to many Bible readers. It’s like taking off a pair of glasses we’ve worn every day of our lives. Solomon shows us the world without corrective lenses, without eye surgery. It’s just the raw, blurry, dismal picture of life under the sun without the aid of divine help.
In that there is goodness, a chance to see the true brokenness and despair of this world, so that we might also recognize the grace of God for what it is—miraculous and lavish. That is why Solomon can say, even of the dark message of Ecclesiastes, “The sayings are given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:11), while he loudly declares, “Absolute futility.… everything is futile” (v.8). There is one who is coming to bring meaning out of meaninglessness and purpose out of futility. He is making all things new, working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Revelation 21:5; Romans 8:28).
Written by John Greco