If you could picture your life as a wheel, Jesus Christ should be the hub of the wheel. The spokes that come out from the hub are the good things that God gives you like relationships, hobbies, pleasures, material things, security, etc. Last week I touched on what happens when we attempt to replace the hub of our wheel (Jesus) with the spokes (the good things he gives us). This week I want to attempt to continue addressing the negative consequences of putting spokes where the hub alone should go.
One of the negative affects of doing this is that a life without Jesus at the center ultimately leads to despair.
King Solomon, believed to be the wealthiest man in the history of the world, notes in Ecclesiastes 1:15, “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”
What does this mean? Essentially, Solomon is explaining there are some situations in life you just can’t straighten out. There are evil people that will never change. There are a lot of “crooked” situations that we just can’t change. No matter how hard we try, some bad things in the world happen and we are ultimately powerless to stop them. This is coming from a king who had all the power in the world and he still couldn’t straighten things out.
Think about the atrocities of our world. What about viruses and sicknesses? What about starving children in Africa? What about this atrocity and that atrocity? We can’t make those crooked things straight. We can help…but we can’t eradicate all of life’s problems.
We find ourselves in a “cause-driven” culture. Every young person desires to “change the world.” While this is a noble desire, it’s ultimately futile when we put this desire in the hub of our wheel, where Jesus ultimately should reside. When we make the “cause” our goal, we eventually end up unsatisfied.
Now let me make myself clear, it’s good to be cause-oriented. But for the Christian, the cause can’t be our god. We can try to stamp out hunger or disease, but that’s ultimately not what we’re created to do. Therefore, we ultimately end up unsatisfied and in despair. Solomon makes it clear: There are some things that we just cant change. These things are crooked. No matter how hard we try to bend them back into place, they just won’t bend.
Solomon then says, “what is lacking cannot be counted.” This means that we cannot count what we do not have. What does he mean here? He means that sometimes we try to solve problems that don’t need solving! Sometimes we create drama in our lives that is just not necessary. Creating drama by trying to solve problems that aren’t problems is also futile and empty and leads to despair.
There are so many things in this life that we are powerless to change. We can’t control certain people. We can’t solve certain problems. We can’t satisfy certain thirsts. Contrary to what our parents and people may tell us, We CANNOT do whatever we set our mind to do. We just can’t. I wanted to be an Air Force fighter pilot but my eyes are bad and they only take pilots with 20/20 uncorrected vision. We just can’t do whatever we desire. This truth should lead us to despair. And this is Solomon’s point…
He says in verse 17, “And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.”
“Madness and folly” in this context refers to living an immoral life. It is about living in disobedience to God’s commands. Solomon was also interested in learning about the difference between right and wrong and if the difference mattered. And he said that in the end, whether you live your life right or live your life wrong…it doesn’t matter. This is shocking to hear!
Many people take this approach to living. Whether or not they believe in God, they typically have a moral code that they live by, or at least claim to live by. Knowing the difference between right and wrong does not help you find the meaning and purpose of life. Therefore, even in knowing how to live a moral life there lies frustration.
When you read this you are left more depressed than when you began. The purpose of this writing is for life to seem hopeless. When we attempt to make sense of the world without factoring in the existence of God we find ourselves in this dead end of hopelessness. You can study all of the philosophies you want, read all of the self-help books and watch all of the talk shows, but without Christ at the center, everything is futile.
Do you need to change how your wheel is ordered? Maybe you have Jesus as a spoke, when He needs to be the hub. What is your hub? Your work, hobbies, financial goals, security, philosophies of life, relationships?
Unless Jesus is your hub, all of your strivings are like chasing the wind. They are like vapor. Make a decision today to put Jesus as the center of your life. He will not lead you to despair.