The Mystery of Injustice and Death
Open Your Bible
Ecclesiastes 3:16-22, Genesis 3:19, Psalm 104:28-30, Psalm 119:25-26, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
BY Jessica Lamb
I was recently given a robot vacuum. I’ve wanted one for several years, and the first night we turned it on, my husband and I watched it whir around our living room in awe. Then it stopped abruptly, full of dust, dirt, and who knows what else. We emptied it and ran it again. Then again. We ran it twelve times before it finally seemed satiated. But then when we ran it the next night, it had to be emptied multiple times yet again.
I initially felt defeated. Foolishly, I’d imagined that this gift would mean the permanent end of my dirty floors, instead of understanding it to be a helpful tool in the inevitable. My life is one of perpetually dirty floors, of glitter shed from preschool art projects and baby food flung surprisingly far from the dining room table. There will always be dust for the Roomba at the end of each day. While I can’t stop cleaning, I’m happier when I focus my energy on the joys of the mess-makers instead of pretending like their mess can be fully avoided.
At first glance, the hopelessness of today’s passage seems almost aggressive. Like Adam after the fall (Genesis 3), we read that “all are going to the same place” (meaning we will all die), but then the author of Ecclesiastes seemingly pivots and tells us to “enjoy [our] activities’ (Ecclesiastes 3:20–22).
He tells us to enjoy this life because we know death is a part of our post-fall reality, not just in spite of it. We can’t outrun death any easier than I can outsweep dirt in my home. But if we remember to number our days, we gain wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Against the backdrop of eternity, of knowing that our time here is limited, we can rightly hold all the good and bad of this life in proper perspective.
We can enjoy the blessings in our lives without expecting them to fill us in a way they were never meant to. We can grieve, mourn, and endure pain, because we know those, too, have an expiration date. We can learn to invest our hopes in and entrust our sorrows to an eternal God who satisfies eternally.
And on this side of the cross, we know God does not leave us in dust. Death is not our permanent end. As believers, we will also bear the image of Jesus, the man of heaven (1Corinthians 15:49), whose defeat over the grave is the first taste of a future harvest when all believers will be resurrected (v.20). We know that after death we will find ourselves in the presence of the Lord, where there is abundant joy (2Corinthians 5:8) and resurrection victory over death (1Corinthians 15:57). The gospel transforms the meaning of life, and it transforms the meaning of death.