The writer of the Biblical book Ecclesiastes, often called ‘The Teacher’, makes the statement that-
“For everything there is a season”. (3:1)
This ‘season’, as the last year fades and the horizons of the yet untravelled vistas of the new year rise up before us, is often considered a time for reflection, a time to review our journey up to now and to consider plans for the future.
In this season it is good also to reflect on The Teacher’s further words that there is-
“A time to be born, and a time to die”.
This reminds us that, while the length varies between individuals, our time here is limited, bookended as it is by the non-negotiable facts of birth and death, so it’s worth reflecting carefully on how we use it. However, as we consider that, in this season of reflection there is a much bigger underlying question that we should meditate on, which is-
“Why do I exist at all?”
Our answer to that will, whether we like it or not, control our decision-making, even if we are not aware of it.
In effect, there are only two basic answers to the ‘Big Why’ question.
1. I’m an cosmic accident. There is no actual purpose for, or meaning to, my existence. I am a mere blip in the universe (the result of a trillion trillion accidental biological mutations), living on a lonely non-descript small planet, in a very ordinary solar system, stuck out in the backwater ‘suburbs’ of a very unremarkable galaxy in a vast universe, which in any case may be just one of many others.
Further, if by some sort of cosmic fluke that out of another trillion trillion possibilities it just so happens that this planet is perfectly suited for humans to live on.
This is what many will say but, if we are honest, it is debatable as to whether just being some sort of accident really gives a very satisfactory answer to the ‘Big Why’ question. More than that, could this answer be a contributary cause of the growing epidemic of anxiety and depressive illness and suicide in western societies (especially among the young), what the French call Anomie, a sense of meaningless, emptiness and lack of hope?
2. I exist by design. If this is the case, if I am designed, it begs the question as to whom is the designer? This then raises another fundamental question which is – What is the purpose for which I was designed? Our answer to this will control our reflections on the ‘what will I do in 2019?’ question.
The Teacher’s main theme is to answer the question ‘What is the purpose, the meaning of my life if there is no designer, if in fact God is left out of our considerations.
His answer? “Meaningless, meaningless, says The Teacher,
Utterly meaningless, Everything is meaningless”(1:2)
As The Teacher says “For everything there is a season”. This is a season for reflection. It is important for our decisions, as the new horizons of 2019 and the years to follow beckon, that we do not allow it to be buried by our constant all-consuming ‘busy-ness’, but rather take time to reflect deeply on the most fundamental and life directing question of all – The Big Why?
Why do I exist at all?